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Shoot range must come down – Enforcement decision upheld

OWNERS of a shooting range at Eskdalemuir have lost an appeal against enforcement action requiring them to stop construction on site.

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By Zac Hannay
Annan and Eskdale
Shoot range must come down - Enforcement decision upheld

And Eskdalemuir Forestry Ltd now have three months to demolish a training area, car park, toilets and target areas at Clerkhill, which don’t have planning permission.

An enforcement notice was first issued by Dumfries and Galloway Council in March, giving them three months to comply.

However, the company appealed to the Scottish Government, whereupon reporter Nick Smith was appointed to determine the case.

Following a site visit last month, and considering all the evidence, he has now dismissed Eskdalemuir Forestry’s appeal, confirming they don’t yet have planning permission for the change of use of the land to form a range.

In his report, published on the Scottish Government website, Mr Smith said: “What I saw on my site visit confirms that, as a matter of fact, the shooting range, target areas, car park, training centre and hardstanding for toilets, and, the associated construction and engineering works

alleged by the enforcement notice have occurred.

“Since the existing use is agriculture (with possibly some forestry), this represents a material change of use. Planning permission is required for but has not been granted.”

He declares himself satisfied that development “has taken place without the necessary planning permission and so a breach of planning control has occurred.”

And he dismissed Eskdalemuir Forestry’s argument that the car park and training centre are not causing any planning issues or giving rise to any amenity issues – and points out that there have been concerns raised locally about noise impacts from shooting range operations.

Mr Smith notes that Dumfries and Galloway Council continues to seek removal of all development associated with the shooting range.

Summing up, he said: “The appeal has failed on all grounds pled by the appellant. I have considered all of the matters before me and found none that would lead me to reach a different conclusion.

“Accordingly, I dismiss the appeal and uphold the enforcement notice.”

Welcoming the decision, a Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesperson said: “The Reporter issued his decision last week that the appeal is dismissed and therefore the Enforcement Notice is still valid.”

The outcome has also been welcomed by residents at Samye Ling and a spokesperson said: “Whilst we are pleased to hear that the Scottish Government has found no grounds for appealing the council’s enforcement notice, we are aware that our neighbours are considering submitting plans under a major development application. If this goes ahead we hope there will be an adequate opportunity for public consultation on the issue.”

The row over a shooting range at Clerkhill has been going on since 2021, when an application was first submitted to the local authority for retrospective planning permission for the site.

It sparked a worldwide backlash due to the applicant’s proximity to the Samye Ling Buddhist Monastery.

A petition was launched and signed by over 22,000 people, including singer Annie Lennox.

In January this year another Scottish Government reporter agreed with a ruling by Dumfries and Galloway Council that the shooting range should be considered a major development and the developers were told they needed to submit a fresh application and hold public consultations on their proposal.

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