Firing Range Must Be Removed – Law Enforcement Ruling Upheld

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And Eskdalemuir Forestry Ltd now has three months to demolish a training area, car park, toilets and target areas in Clerkhill, which do not have planning permission.

A Notice of Enforcement was first issued by Dumfries and Galloway Council in March, giving them three months to comply.

However, the company appealed to the Scottish Government, after which journalist Nick Smith was appointed to determine the matter.

Following a site visit last month and considering all the evidence, he has now rejected Eskdalemuir Forestry’s appeal, confirming that they do not yet have planning permission for the change of land use to form a beach.

In his report, published on the Scottish Government’s website, Mr Smith said: ‘What I saw during my site visit confirms that in fact the range, the target areas, the car park, the training center and floor for the toilets, and associated construction and engineering works

alleged by the notice of execution have taken place.

“Given that the current use is agriculture (with perhaps some forestry), this represents a significant change in use. A building permit is required but has not been granted.

He expressed satisfaction that the development “took place without the necessary planning permission and therefore there was a breach of planning control”.

And he rejected Eskdalemuir Forestry’s argument that the car park and training center cause no planning problems or pose any amenity problems – and points out that concerns have been raised locally about noise impacts range operations.

Mr Smith notes that Dumfries and Galloway council continues to seek the removal of any development associated with the range.

In summary, he said: “The appeal has failed on all the grounds relied on by the appellant. I have considered all of the issues before me and have not found any that would lead me to reach a different conclusion.

“Accordingly, I dismiss the appeal and maintain the notice of execution.”

Welcoming the decision, a spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: ‘The reporter delivered his decision last week that the appeal is dismissed and therefore the notice of application still stands. .”

The result was also welcomed by residents of Samye Ling and a spokesperson said: “While we are delighted to hear that the Scottish Government have found no reason to appeal against the notice of execution of the council, we are aware that our neighbors are considering submitting plans as part of a major development application and if this goes ahead we hope there will be adequate opportunity for public consultation on the matter.

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

This sparked a global reaction due to the claimant’s proximity to the Samye Ling Buddhist monastery.

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

In January this year, another Scottish Government reporter accepted a decision by Dumfries and Galloway Council that the range should be considered a major development and the developers were told they had to submit a new application and hold public consultations on their proposal.

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