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Shooting range plans withdrawn

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By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Shooting range plans withdrawn
SACRED . . . both shooting ranges would be less than ten miles from Samye Ling

PLANNING applications for two high-calibre shooting ranges in Eskdalemuir have been withdrawn.

Last month Dumfries and Galloway Council ruled that the plans – separately submitted as local developments by landowners last year – must be withdrawn and resubmitted as major ones, as the area of both proposed sites exceed two hectares.

Robert Duncan, team leader of major developments with the council, said he had received “a number of representations”, adding that the local authority sought “independent legal advice” on the matter and concluded the application could only be accepted “after all the necessary procedures for a ‘major’ development have been completed”.

It means that applicants Mr E Glenndening and Eskdalemuir Forestry, from Over Cassock Farm and Clerkhill respectively, are required to notify the council and local community councils of their plans 12 weeks before resubmitting, allowing time for a pre-application consultation exercise with the public.

This process will give both those for and against the shooting ranges an opportunity to have their say on the controversial plans, which have drawn criticism from neighbouring residents, politicians and celebrities due to their close proximity to Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre near Langholm.

As the proposals came to light, monks from the world-famous monastery joined calls for the ranges to be rejected.

Samye Ling’s Abbot, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, said it was the latest in a succession of issues regarding “deeply upsetting” gunfire around the temple, adding the community has heard “more and more shooting” in recent years.

He said: “I like to live in harmony with the good people in this region and feel very grateful to live in such a beautiful, peaceful place.

“Almost everyone in the whole valley around Samye Ling is Buddhist, and for a Buddhist it is absolutely unthinkable to kill. So to hear a lot of loud gun shots is deeply upsetting for them all.”

The abbot’s intervention sparked widespread opposition to the plans on social media, and an online petition demanding a public consultation – which attracted more than 20,000 signatures.

After proving successful, it’s now expected that the applicants will initiate the process soon.

However, Hanna Casement, who started the change.org petition, stressed that having the consultation “does not mean that we have won the battle”, adding: “We still have a long way to go.”

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