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tory donor set to rake in millions from scots wind farms
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Tory donor set to rake in millions from Scots wind farms

A controversial property tycoon and Tory donor is set to rake in millions from massive onshore wind farms planned in one of Scotland’s most fragile communities. London-based financier Dr Christopher Moran – who owns the 48,000-acre Cabrach Estate in Moray – has been described as a “wind farm vulture” and even launched his own renewables firm. The colourful multimillionaire has a chequered 40-year history in finance and real estate – with previous scandals around insider trading and prostitution in a block of flats his firm owned. In the Cabrach – which includes Moran’s sprawling estate – local groups said the scale of wind farm construction planned will be unprecedented and turn it into “the UK’s largest onshore wind park”. They fear the tiny, remote community is already close to “saturation point” with the size of proposed developments leaving it “at risk of extinction”. A first wave of construction has already seen 77 turbines built across two operating wind farms, Dorenell and Clashindarroch. Dorenell Wind Farm, on Moran’s Cabrach and Glenfiddich Estate south of Dufftown, launched in 2019 – with the landowner reportedly earning more than £1million a year in rent from Dutch developers Infinergy. And now a second AND third wave of developments have been green-lit – including an extension of Clashindarroch Wind Farm that would also be located on Moran’s land. Jack Irvine, a political adviser to community group the Cabrach Trust, told the Record the businessman will “gain financially at the expense of the community”. He said: “Historically, his estate in the Cabrach has one of the worst records for wildlife crime in Scotland. “Moran’s reputation as a landowner in Scotland is possibly worse than his reputation in the financial worlds of London and New York.” Workers on the Cabrach Estate have previously been prosecuted for animal neglect amid allegations of dog fighting – while it has a grim history of killings of protected birds of prey and the use of cruel animal traps. In just five months during 1998, a joint investigation by the RSPB and the police recorded ten incidents of wildlife offences on the estate. Patti Nelson, chair of the Cabrach Community Association, said: “This is of a course a sensitive matter as we are all part of the same community. “However, the Cabrach Community Association, alongside The Cabrach Trust, maintains a positive, hopeful outlook for the Cabrach. “An outlook which centres on the Cabrach as our home, home for many others, and hopefully home for an increasing number over the years ahead, whilst protecting the natural habitat, cultural heritage, and wild beauty of the place. “Whether that vision is shared by the Estate is for others to comment on.” Historically, the Cabrach was a legendary haunt of whisky smugglers – with the area regarded as the birthplace of malt whisky. The Cabrach Trust, set up in 2013 to revitalise the community and reverse a “tide of decline”, accused Scottish ministers of failing to engage with them over their concerns . And they claimed they’d been ignored by the government’s “secretive” Energy Consents Unit based in Glasgow. Jonathan Christie, chief exec of the Trust, told the Record: “The Cabrach community wholly supports Scotland’s aspiration for a just transition to net zero. “However, recently consented plans for a second wave of wind farm developments have caused great concern about cumulative impact. “Now, with a third wave of onshore wind developments navigating planning, the community is left feeling voiceless and powerless in the face of what can only be described as an unrelenting pattern of consents at any cost. “To put it bluntly, if all third wave developments secure consent, the Cabrach unwittingly becomes the UK’s largest onshore wind park. “There is an urgent requirement to apply the brakes.” Moran – thought to be worth around £400million – is a major donor to the Conservative Party and has been publicly praised by senior figures like Boris Johnson. He or his companies are thought to have funnelled some £300,000 to the Tories over the years. Moran has described himself as “astonishingly wealthy” and lives in Crosby House, a £25million, 30-bedroom mansion in London. In 1982, he became the first British insurance broker to be expelled from Lloyd’s of London over “discreditable conduct”. Moran was also later censured by the Stock Exchange Council and fined $2million in the US for insider dealing in 1992. In 2018, a Sunday Times investigation found more than 100 prostitutes were listed as available for business in Chelsea Cloisters – a giant serviced apartment block owned by Moran’s property company Realreed. It saw the building infamously nicknamed the ‘Ten Floors of Whores’. Moran has vociferously denied having any knowledge of the prostitution. In 2012, outdoors charity Ramblers Scotland described Moran as “one of many wind farm vultures circling around the Cairngorms National Park” – with his estate just 1.4 miles away from the park boundary. A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We need bold action to tackle the climate emergency and Scotland has extensive renewable generation capabilities with which to accelerate the just transition to net zero. “Scotland has some of the most stringent environmental impact regulations anywhere in the world and our planning and consenting system ensures that local communities can always have their say. “It is vital that local communities are fully engaged in and derive lasting benefits from any onshore wind development.” The Cabrach and Glenfiddich Estate and Dr Moran didn’t respond to requests for comment. According to his website, Moran has “a strong commitment to wider society supporting institutions in a wide range of sectors including national heritage, the arts, architecture, health and well-being, faith, and international relations”. In October 2023, he became the Honorary President of peace-building charity Co-operation Ireland after stepping down from a 20-year tenure as its chairman. Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here .

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