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Famous face joins fight against shooting plans

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Famous face joins fight against shooting plans

SAMYE Ling Monastery has doubled down on its fight against gunfire with support from a well known Scottish singer.

This week a 10,000 signature-strong petition backed by the internationally-renowned Tibetan Buddhist centre in Eskdalemuir was submitted to the Scottish Parliament urging the Government to establish “firearms exclusion zones” around places of national spiritual importance and religious worship in Scotland.

And one of the signatories was former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox, who said a ‘peaceful retreat centre being threatened by the interests of a gun club sums up the irony of the times we live in’. The campaign was set up after two applications for high-calibre shooting ranges near the temple – one of which sought to accommodate the US Army for training exercises – were met with a fierce backlash from residents, politicians and celebrities.

Last month Dumfries and Galloway Council ruled the proposals could not be considered as they had been wrongly submitted as local developments. The applicants at Clerkhill and Over Cassock Farm subsequently withdrew their plans and were told they’d need to resubmit them as major developments and complete a public consultation.

However, monks and nuns at Samye Ling say the sound of gunfire has become commonplace in the valley throughout the shooting season and has intensified over recent years.

The latest petition, started by Dr Conrad Harvey, is an attempt to curb the disturbances around the sacred site – and protect other places of worship in Scotland.

It’s hoped by supporters that MSPs will now consider making it law that no new firearm ranges can be approved within five miles of an established cathedral, temple, synagogue, mosque, or monastery.

“This would protect the peaceful environment sought by people visiting or staying at these places and mean they are not subject to the intrusive and violent noise of regular audible gunfire,” the petition states.

After four weeks, it finished collecting signatures yesterday (June 23) and was submitted to the Scottish Parliament.

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