MCALPINE WELCOMES GOVERNMENT SUPPORT OVER BUCCLEUCH

Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken out in Holyrood for the Dumfries and Galloway communities affected by the Duke of Buccleuch’s sale of the so-called Evertown Portfolio.
 
The South Scotland SNP MSP told parliament that the Duke of Buccleuch is advertising land near Canonbie village for its Coalbed Methane (CBM) deposits.  The Scottish Government has made clear that no licenses will be granted for unconventional oil and gas extraction – including coalbed methane – and the residents of Canonbie have raised repeated objections to any excavation proposals. 
 
Ms McAlpine highlighted her concern that big landowners are shirking their responsibility to formally engage with local residents impacted by decisions relating to land. 
 
The MSP has been campaigning on a number of fronts in relation to Buccleuch Estates disposal of Evertown – a 9,000 acre rural estate in South Scotland being marketed for £19.5 million.  As well as fighting CBM proposals at Canonbie, the MSP has objected to the impending removal of farming couple, Alison and David Telfer, who are being cast off their Cleuchfoot farm, after 20 years, to make way for more lucrative forestry plantation.
 
Responding to questioning, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform, outlined that landowners were expected to formally engage communities when significant decisions about land use are made.  Ms Cunningham then confirmed that no local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or Coalbed Methane project
 
On Buccleuch, Ms McAlpine said:
 
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government has left us with no doubt.  The Duke has hidden from his obligations.  The expectation is clear; this is undeniably a major change in land use and Buccleuch Estates have ignored the wishes of the community and flouted their responsibilities.
 
“Savills, the agents marketing the sale, are advertising Canonbie as ripe for profit because of CBM deposits.  Well, Scotland and its government are clear, we don’t want extraction here.  It is a destructive process and environmentally crippling – especially for rural communities like Canonbie. 
 
“Buccleuch Estates has shown nothing but disdain for the concerns of the communities affected by this sale.  The Telfers have been on their farm for 20 years.  The Duke, on a whim, has decided to uproot their livelihood in pursuit of yet more profit.  It is time to do the reasonable thing and leave the Telfers and the residents of Canonbie in peace.” 
 
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, and the Scottish Government’s Scottish Government’s Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land, necessitates formal community engagement over decisions which may significantly impact on the social, economic or cultural development of a community, access to a good quality environment, and community viability.
 
Both the communities around the Telfer’s Cleuchfoot holding and the residents of Canonbie have reacted angrily to the Duke’s proposals. 
 
An online petition in support of the Telfers, started by activist organisation 38 degrees, has garnered over 11,500 signatures.

 
Full transcript:  General Questions 25/10/18
 
JM:  To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on legally obliging landowners to formally engage with communities affected by major changes in land use?
 
RC:  The Scottish Government’s Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land sets expectations that all landowners across urban and rural Scotland will engage with their local communities about decisions relating to land that will have a significant impact on the local community.  
 
JM:  Does the Scottish Government share my concern over the Duke of Buccleuch advertising coalbed methane deposits at Canonbie, in his sale of the Evertown Estate, despite the local community’s continued objections to any extraction proposals? 
 
RC:  The Scottish Government does not support unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland and that does include Coalbed Methane.  No local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or Coalbed Methane project and Scottish Ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward, until the full policy making process on our preferred position is completed.  The practical effect of that is that no fracking or other unconventional oil or gas activity can take place in Scotland at this time.  In line with statutory requirements, earlier this week we published for consultation, the Strategic Environmental Assessment environmental report on our preferred policy position.  That consultation is the nezt step; it continues the dialogue with the public on this important issue.  It will run for 8 weeks from the 23rd of October.  It is anticipated that Ministers will inform Parliament of their finalised policy on unconventional oil and gas in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019.  That is the backdrop that people will be operating in regardless of who they are. 
 
 
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 – s 44
 
Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land
 
‘Sturgeon rebukes Duke of Buccleuch in tenancy row over forestry plantations’
 
‘Land Commissioner intervenes in Buccleuch tenant farmer row’
 
‘Scotland’s Modern Day Clearances Under Way’
 
Petition
 
Evertown Portfolio
 
Mouldyhills – Canonbie
 


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