Broughton: John Buchan Way trees plan opposed by campaigners

PROPOSALS to plant trees in a National Scenic Area in the Borders have been met with opposition from locals.

The plans for Peeblesshire’s John Buchan Way involve afforestation across 175 hectares, mainly for commercial purposes to produce timber, while native broadleaves will also be planted.

The new woodland creation would be set “within the property at Broughton Hope” and would see trees planted in one of the Borders’ two National Scenic Areas.

With the consultation process having started, Broughton Community Council was contacted by RDS Forestry, leading to opposition from the community.

Fiona Pagett, who has lived in Broughton for 21 years, has set up a Facebook group called ‘Save our Glen – JBW’ which now has more than 180 members.

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“I’m incredibly heartened, though not remotely surprised, at the immediate and enormous opposition to the planting proposal at Broughton Hope,” said Ms Pagett, an estate agent.

“We are becoming engulfed in Sitka spruce plantations as the Scottish Government ploughs towards its spurious target of mass planting in the belief this will solve climate change.

“It is disregarding our treasured and diverse landscape and threatening much flora and fauna,” added Ms Pagett, who lives in the village with her son Angus and daughter Katie.

“I have high hopes that this particular proposal, which affects the John Buchan Way, local residents, the shepherd and would negatively impact tourism, will gain the attention of those able to stop it in its tracks.”

According to Ms Pagett, 80-year-old shepherd Geordie Wilson’s role “will be removed” if the proposals on the land go ahead. Mr Wilson has spent the last seven years working on the area in his retirement, Ms Pagett said.

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Meanwhile, concerns have been raised by locals regarding the impact on walkers, private water supplies and the “panoramic” views of the valley. The proposals would also involve the creation of a road to allow logging lorries access to the site.

The community council has received a number of comments from concerned residents.

One comment reads: “The worst part of the proposal for me is the approximately 2km section where the John Buchan Way will become forest road flanked directly on either side by serried ranks of conifers.”

Another comment states: “I have strong family connections to the glen as my ancestors were owners and farmers of it. I know for a fact that they would be turning in their graves at the very thought of this.”

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A spokesperson from RDS Forestry said: “As part of any potential new woodland creation proposal, due diligence is to be carried out in the form of site surveys and stakeholder consultation.

“Independent surveys have been performed by qualified experts to identify potential constraints. These include an ornithology assessment, an archaeology ground survey and Phase 1 Habitat Assessment.

“On completion of these surveys, we then engaged with stakeholders and the local community to determine other factors that need to be considered in the design process.

“Over the last few days we have received a number of consultation responses from both statutory stakeholders and members of the public. We are currently reviewing these and considering the comments received. This is the purpose of the stakeholder consultation, and is an important part of any new woodland creation project.”

The other National Scenic Area in the Borders is Eildon and Leaderfoot.

Border Telegraph | News