Redefining Berwickshire’s map of Special Landscape Areas

FOR the best part of 50 years the Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) in the Borders have remained the same but this week local councillors agreed to change the designation map.

As well as changing the name to Special Landscape Areas (SLA) they are also extending the boundaries of five of the region’s nine SLAs, including the Lammermuir Hills and the Berwickshire Coast; increasing by 29 per cent the amount of Borders land within an SLA.

During a 2007 inquiry into the region’s Local Plan the reporter told Scottish Borders Council that the length of time the AGLVs had been designated, plus pressure from development, meant they could no longer be justified and needed updating.

Areas included in the Berwickshire SLAs are: Lammermuir Plateau; Greenlaw Common; Cockburnspath; Coldingham; Lamberton Moor; Coldingham Moor; Lower Eye Water; Lower Tweed Valley.

The new local landscape designation document that will be used as guidelines for future planning applications points out that the Lammermuir Plateau scores highly but that “areas east of the Whiteadder score relatively less well, as they are more affected by forestry and wind turbines”.

This led to the proposed east and south east edge of the Lammermuirs being excluded from the SLA. However, there were a number of objections to the suggested exclusion of these areas from the Lammermuir Hills SLA.

Gordon and Westruther and Greenlaw community councils expressed concern about the Lammermuir Hills SLA being “severely pruned”. And Berwickshire Civic Society added that they had “serious concerns about the deselection of some Areas of Great Landscape Value particularly in the Lammermuirs west of Cranshaws, where windfarm developers will be encouraged to submit new applications”.

Wind farm developers EDF pointed out that Fallago wind farm is in the Lammermuir Hills SLA and that an acknowledgement should be made that “this significant scale of development can be accommodated without harm to the instrinic character.”

However, agents for the Buccleuch Estates and Northumberland Estates said: “It is questionable whether it is a valid policy response to give up on the wider Lammermuirs because of adverse decisions such as the consenting of the Fallago wind farm. There is a danger that existing consents will simply become the main justification for additional consents for wind farms.”

A review resulted in the Lammermuir Hills SLA being increased to take in Dirrington Law to the south, and east to the path running past Liddle Dod to near Abbey St Bathans.

However, local pressure to have Hume Crags, adjacent to Hume Castle included, did not succeed.

The Berwickshire coast SLA has been increased to both the north and south.

Coldingham Moor was a late addition to the Berwickshire coast SLA following representations by Ray Porter who said: “I welcome the Berwickshire coast being included as a SLA, for it is one of the most stunning and important pieces of coastline in the UK. However, I am concerned about how thin the strip of coastline is - to afford this magnificent coastline the protection it requires and to ensure that the tourism industry is protected.

The guidelines say: It was considered that the coastal moorland is unique to the east coast and that by moving the landward boundary to the A1107 more of the moorland would be protected.”