• The Trump International Golf Links opened in July 2012. The
    controversial £750m golf development was built directly on the Site of Special Scientific Interest and resulting in the destruction of the Menie dunes. The vast and majestic giant shifting dunes at Menie, on the
    ...

  • The Dunes: An exploration of landscape and community Designated protected land for over 40 years, the fragile and unique shifting sand dunes at Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast were once one of the finest remaining examples of wilderness in the UK. Unspoiled ecosystems on the scale of...

  • “Sophie Gerrard’s project The Dunes, is about a Site of Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire that Donald Trump has turned into a golf course; but it’s not just about that. Depicting local people whose lives and livelihoods have been irrevocably changed by Trump International Gol...

  • “These dunes are the jewels in the crown of our national identity. The equivalent of our rainforests, once they’re gone, they’re gone.”   – Dr Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow

  • “The great importance of the sand  dome was that it was mobile, it was a great shifting system, it wasn’t fixed. So if you plant it, if you try and stabilise it you will ruin the very aspect which made it unique. If you halt the progression of these dunes by planting them, yo...

Trump International Golf Links under construction. Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

During the construction period biblical amounts of sand were stripped from the dunes. The giant shifting sand dome was leveled and destroyed and the dynamic dunes at Menie were turfed and stabalised.

The vast and majestic giant shifting dunes at Menie, Aberdeenshire, April 2011

The dunes were protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the highest level of environmental protection in the UK. Despite this, Trumps’ development was deemed to be in the national economic interest and planning permission was granted by the Scottish Government following a public enquiry in 2008.

  • The Trump International Golf Links opened in July 2012. The
    controversial £750m golf development was built directly on the Site of Special Scientific Interest and resulting in the destruction of the Menie dunes.

    The vast and majestic giant shifting dunes at Menie, on the
    Aberdeenshire coast were once one of the few remaining
    examples of true wilderness in the UK.
    Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the highest
    national level of environmental protection in the UK, this highly
    mobile dune system, unique in the UK and rarely found elsewhere
    in Europe has been of tremendous geomorphological interest for
    decades.
    Today, the once protected dunes are all but destroyed. The
    Trump International Golf Links opened in July 2012. The
    controversial £750m golf development was built directly on the
    SSSI and resulting in the destruction of the Menie dunes. Donald
    Trump claims the golf course will be the best in the world, it was
    granted permission by The Scottish Government on the promise of
    £1bn investment to the local economy. the fate of this unique and
    seemingly protected habitat has been sealed.
    The development of the Trump International Golf Course at Menie
    and the subsequent destruction of an SSSI is not just an issue for
    Scotland, it’s of extreme significance everywhere.

     

  • SSSIs are designated in the national interest, they are assets
    which are protected for the good of the nation as a whole and
    described by environmentalists as the crème de la crème of
    our biodiversity in the UK. All SSSIs including the magnificent dunes at
    Menie are valuable and nationally recognised environmental
    assets. The more we erode these unique places, the more we
    contribute to the drip drip erosion of our national identity.
    Whilst some argue that it’s only the destruction of a sand dune
    and after all the development will bring investment and 1400
    jobs the to the local area, others speculate on just how much a
    coastline saturated with golf courses and a city with one of the
    lowest unemployment rates in the UK needs yet another links
    course.
    Alongside the environmental impact, many of the local residents
    have also objected strongly to the development. Since declining
    Trump’s offer to buy their homes they have suffered bullying,
    intimidation and great disruption to their once quiet lives.
    The Dunes presents a social document of a community bullied
    into submission and a once protected landscape left with no voice.

Susan Munro, Resident, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

“It’s just so sad. I don’t even like coming down here anymore it makes me so upset. I don’t know where I’m going, I used to know these dunes like the back of my hand. It’s completely changed beyond recognition. It’s heartbreaking.” - Susan Munro, Menie Resident

WWII Pillbox in the shifting dunes, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 2011

“The World War II pillboxes are still there in the dunes, The army blew most of them up after the war but some remain. They used to sit on top of the dunes at one time, they’ve moved with the shifting sands. In some bad storms I’ve known them to be completely covered by the shifting sand and then re-appear years later. It’s always changing.” - Michael Forbes, Menie resident

Susan Munro’s home situated in the middle of the Trump development, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

After she refused an offer from Trump to buy her house, she has seen the landscape outside her front door change dramatically. The ground in front of Susan’s house has been raised and leveled and a large pile of sand with trees planted in it now blocks the view in every direction, "I find it really intimidating".

Susan Munro’s home situated in the middle of the Trump development, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

Not only does Susan suffer with the noise and the disruption from living next door to a construction site, she and her neighbours have suffered significant levels of bullying and intimidation ever since they refused to sell their homes to Trump.

  • The Dunes: An exploration of landscape and community

    Designated protected land for over 40 years, the fragile and unique shifting sand dunes at Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast were once one of the finest remaining examples of wilderness in the UK.

    Unspoiled ecosystems on the scale of the Menie dunes are rare both in Scotland and in the UK.

    Over more than 5 years, an ecologically deadly and often hidden battle of development versus environment, protection versus progression and public versus private has been being fought on the shifting sands at Menie.

    The fight to protect the unspoiled dunes has, however, been lost. Against expert scientific, local and public opinion, Trump International’s exclusive golf and leisure development at Menie opened in summer 2012. The shifting protected sand dunes at Menie have been completed destroyed.

    Under Scottish law, access rights give the public a “right to roam”. Trump International have blocked public rights of way, made illegal changes to coastal defenses and bullied local residents. Many European countries have designated coastal protection zones where there is a presumption against such new developments. By granting permission for Trump International’s development, the wider issues of recreational access and protecting the UK coastline as a whole is thrown into question.

    The ownership of any sand dunes in the UK is a foreign concept. Our beaches are public.

    This project not only results in the destruction of one of the largest areas of shifting sand in the UK, but marks a question. If we continue to allow the erosion of our coastlines, of our public wildernesses and of our heritage, are we prepared to deal with the consequences. Some would argue that we are quick to condone other countries for destroying their natural resources whilst we are slowly but surely chipping away at our own.

    The Dunes presents a social document of a community under threat and a landscape with no voice, bullied into submission.

Michael Forbes, Resident, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

“My uncle who was a salmon fisher bought this place in 1956, I left school and came to work for him, eventually my father and I bought a salmon station and we worked that together. My family have been fishers here for generations.”

Milton, the horse belonging to Michael and Sheila Forbes, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

In 2011 Michael Forbes’ access route from his home on the Menie Estate, through the dunes to the sea was blocked by Trump. He no longer fishes for salmon.“Now that the access is blocked, well I can't fight him. He’ll win, he’s too many lawyers.”

The sand dunes at Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2011

“It was as the sand dunes moved it formed into a circle, surrounded by dunes, as if one dune had progressed along into a big sand curve. All you could see was sand, it was like the Sahara, like a desert, that was all you could see was sand.” - Susan Munro, Menie resident

The vast and majestic giant shifting dunes at Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, April 2011

"The great importance of the sand dome was that it was mobile, it was a great shifting system, it wasn’t fixed. So if you plant it, if you try and stabilise it you will ruin the very aspect which made it unique. If you halt the progression of these dunes by planting them, you’re effectively sterilising the entire dynamic system." -Jonathan Hughes, Scottish Wildlife Trust

Sand dunes planted with Marram Grass, on the new golf course at Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 2012

By turfing and stabalising the dunes the unique landscape has now lost all its scientific value. What was once a valuable environmental asset for the UK has been lost. “The original idea of golf in Scotland in the 18th and 19th Centuries was that it was a wild pursuit, and as the land moves so too do the greens. The problem here is what has been built is a highly manicured golf course which might be better suited to California.” - Dr. Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow

Bettie Watts, at her home on the Menie estate, 2011

Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, August 2011

Cottages on the Menie estate, 2011

Supply boats wait outside Aberdeen harbour.

The sand dunes at Menie. “It was as if the sand dunes moved and formed into a circle, surrounded by dunes, as if one dune had progressed along into a big sand curve. All you could see was sand, it was like the Sahara, like a desert, that was all you coul

  • “Sophie Gerrard’s project The Dunes, is about a Site of Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire that Donald Trump has turned into a golf course; but it’s not just about that. Depicting local people whose lives and livelihoods have been irrevocably changed by Trump International Golf Links it’s also a story about the power of money and the lack of regard for the environment.

    Foveran Links used to be home to an enormous, shape-shifting network of sand dunes; constantly moving, it created the unique community of plants and animals that made it an SSSI. This designation should have ensured it was protected, and initially Trump’s planning application was refused.

  • Then the Scottish government, lured in by the 6000 jobs the American billionaire was promising to create, intervened. The jobs have not materialised but the golf course has, riding roughshod over local people; those who have refused to sell up and move on have found their houses boxed in behind giant bunkers of earth and screens of thick spruce and pine.

    These people are not happy but there’s little left they can say – they can’t afford to fight Trump and the army of lawyers he can fund. In Scotland this story has special resonance, recalling the Highland Clearances and the depopulation forced by landowners; it also recalls China’s famous holdouts, single houses standing firm against developers. These disenfranchised locals can’t speak out, Gerrard’s images eloquently tell their story.”  – Diane Smyth, Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Photography, 2012.

David Milne, Menie Resident Menie, Aberdeenshire, February 2012.

Trump International Golf Links built directly on the unique shifting sand dunes SSSI at Menie, Aberdeenshire.

Turf on the new golf course at Menie, "All the wind that comes off the sea here is heavilyladen with sand and salt. That turf doesn't look very healthy to me. Things dont grow too well here, the salt in the air here is no good for them.” David Milne, Re

Trump International Golf Links under construction. Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, August 2011

Susan Munro holds photographs of how the landscape arond her home used to look. Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, May 2012

Susan Munro holds photographs of how the landscape arond her home used to look. Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, May 2012

Trump International Golf Links under construction. Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, August 2011

Trump International Golf Links under construction. By turfing and stabalising the dunes the unique landscape has now lost all its scientific value. What was once a valuable environmental asset for the UK has been lost.“The original idea of golf in Scotl

The unique sand dune landscape at Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast was once one of the very few remaining true wilderness environments of the UK. The landscape was quite unique to the UK and unrivalled in Europe. “Vast, shifting sand dome systems of Sahara-like unvegetated sands are extremely rare. The example at Menie was the jewel in the crown of such sites in the UK and we’ve just turned it into a golf course." - Dr. Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow.

The dunes at Menie, Aberdeenshire, April 2011

Trump INternationaol golf course constructed on the dunes at Menie, Aberdeenshire, April 2011

Old family photographs of Michael Forbes family's salmon fishing station on the beach at Menie.

Michael Forbes holds old family photographs of his family's salmon fishing station on the beach at Menie.

The view from Susan Munro’s window Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, February 2012

Trump International Golf Links under construction. February 2012

The view from David Milne's house, February 2012

David Milne, February 2012

Salt Damaged trees, Menie, 2011

Susan's house, May 2012.

The Dunes, May 2012

  • “These dunes are the jewels in the crown of our national identity. The equivalent of our rainforests, once they’re gone, they’re gone.”  

    Dr Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow

  • “The great importance of the sand  dome was that it was mobile, it was a great shifting system, it wasn’t fixed. So if you plant it, if you try and stabilise it you will ruin the very aspect which made it unique. If you halt the progression of these dunes by planting them, you’re effectively sterilising the entire dynamic system.” – Jonathan Hughes, Scottish Wildlife Trust.