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Letters | 1st September 2020

Unfathomable planning rules


I WISH, through your columns, to advise residents of a major application for forestry planting which will impact severely on our hills.

For reasons I find unfathomable, where even a minor proposal for a property development or alteration requires planning notices to all adjoining or potentially-affected neighbours, the intent to cover thousands of acres of hillside in sitka spruce merely requires it to be placed on a public register.

It is left to good fortune for objectors to stumble upon it should they not have specifically requested to be advised of such action.

The planned forestry planting is particularly contentious because it is on the ground of Cleuchfoot Farm.

Readers may recall the considerable local and national media attention which was created when Buccleuch, without warning, advised that they would not renew the tenancy on this farm for David and Alison Telfer, destroying their plans for the future.

After massively negative press and a public meeting, at which anger against Buccleuch was openly expressed, Buccleuch were forced to review their plans.

Buccleuch, having presumably realised all future attempts to end tenancies and benefit from the inflated land prices created by the Forestry Grant Scheme would be monitored closely, opted to sell a major area of land around Langholm and Canonbie.

This was snapped up by James Jones Ltd, a major forestry company. Cleuchfoot was included in this purchase.

A restricted tenancy agreement for the Telfers allows them to farm until their intended date for retirement but the hill ground was taken from them.

The hill sheep were subsequently, and without any apparent logical reason, removed from the hill weeks before they were due to lamb in spring this year on the instructions of James Jones Ltd.

James Jones Ltd, with Tilhill Forestry acting for them, have placed a planning proposal on the public register.

If planning is given consent, the steady encroachment of sitka spruce towards Langholm will continue.

Recent planting has scarred Bush of Ewes and Glendivan in the Ewes valley and James Jones Ltd are now obviously intent on capitalising on their investment here.

Land around Canonbie has already been planted but with this development the speed and scale are intense.

Objectors have only until September 16 to make their feelings known.

Several requests to Forestry and Land Scotland to extend the discussion period because of the COVID-19 difficulties have been ignored, it seems.

Anyone, who wishes to halt or slow down the destruction of our hills under sitka spruce, should request details of the application from Scottish Forestry, Greystone Park, 55/57 Moffat Road, Dumfries, DG1 1NP or ring 03000 676 500 quoting case 20FGS48423, Tansy Hill Woodland Creation. Personal objections can then be submitted.

Residents of this area should be alert to the destruction of our environment by wealthy speculators taking advantage of public funding under forestry grant schemes and ongoing tax benefits.

Aeneas M Nicolson

Bridge House



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