A number hurdles still to cross but it’s a step in right direction
MULTI-MILLION investment in cannabis oil production at a site in Eskdale has been given planning permission by Dumfries and
But applicant Neil Ewart of the Craig, Westerkirk, says there are still many hurdles to overcome, including securing a licence from the Home Office, which could take months.
If the proposal to build a 1.5-hectare glasshouse goes ahead, it could bring dozens of jobs to Eskdale.
A number of partners are
involved in the project which, they said, would be very low impact but provide quality, skilled jobs.
At a public drop-in last August William Ewart explained they would grow medicinal cannabis, a product which the pharmaceutical companies had been researching for epilepsy, pain relief, cancer and multiple sclerosis.
He said: “The oil will be extracted from the plant and bottled before being sold to pharmaceutical companies which will turn it into a medicine.
“Our area has been dwindling in its employment for the past 30 years but we hope to bring substantial new employment.
“We’ll employ about 50 skilled and unskilled people and there is money from the government to train people for those skilled jobs.
“We can headhunt local people and train them for specific jobs, including scientists, IT specialists, horticulturalists and security.”
He said the team they had assembled to get them through the planning application would help to create a sustainable business.
The team expects to produce 200 litres of oil a year, made on site from the concentrated raw material which will be diluted by the pharmaceutical companies.
Neil Ewart told the E&L
Advertiser: “This is an excellent step in the correct direction but there are so many other steps to be taken.
“We need to collect everything together so everyone is satisfied that we’re going to do the correct thing.
“We’re working out how to deal with the building of it and are seeing people who may do some of the site work. We’re making steady progress.
“I don’t want to sound too optimistic and make too much of a fuss because things can go wrong but it’s a very exciting project for Langholm.
“We have to apply to the Home Office for a licence; after planning, that’s the next biggest hurdle.
“We have to demonstrate that Langholm is a fit place to do this kind of thing and we have quite a big team working on it.
“Langholm is a very isolated little town and it’s an ideal place to do something like this.”
The planners in this instance have done a super job. It was all done and dusted in five months from when we first put the project to them.”
The plan seeks to build a commercial glasshouse, associated water storage tanks and a car park.
The proposed building will mainly comprise composite metal profile panels and larger glassed units.
Within the services area a combined heat and power (CHP) plant is proposed with an associated thermal store.
A parking area will provide space for up to 30 vehicles. The site is accessed from the B709 on an existing road which is used by agricultural, forestry and windfarm traffic.
The council’s roads unit had no concerns, given the current use of the access route.
There were no objections from environmental health or the council archaeologist. No representations were received from the public.
In its decision report, the planning authority said that, although the site was outwith a settlement, it offered an opportunity to diversify and support the existing business at Craig Farm and was considered acceptable.
The development, given its location in a remote glen, was comfortably accommodated within the wider landscape.
It was not considered that there would be a significant adverse impact on the landscape character.
However, the council ruled that no development should take place until a construction traffic management plan, including a comprehensive programme of works, had been submitted to and approved by the council.
Denis Male, chairman of the Langholm Alliance, said it was “wonderful news”.
He added: “That is good news for the valley because it will create employment and, if we add that to the jobs being created at the old primary school, there will be more diverse employment.
“When you look at all the things the Langholm Initiative is doing to encourage small start-up businesses as well, the future is starting to look brig