Council wishlist includes dualling of A1 trunk road

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A CHRISTMAS wishlist was sent to Holyrood rather than the North Pole.

Scottish Borders Council has submitted its views on the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework for 2014, which will detail the long-term infrastructure aims of Scotland’s towns, cities and countryside.

And SBC’s response includes five ambitious projects it believes should be pushed forward for the benefit of Scotland and the Borders.

While the schemes are unlikely to be seen in the short term, the framework strategy is designed to shape Government priorities over the next 20 to 30 years.

The local authority proposals include a world class digital network being introduced to strengthen economic growth, reduce unemployment and cut the impact of climate change.

Councillor Ron Smith described connectivity as a “prime need” in the region and said SBC had put down a marker by aiming for the reinstatement of the Waverley rail line from Edinburgh to Carlisle in its reply to the Scottish Government.

Scotland’s National Trail - a 470 mile walking route from Cape Wrath in Sutherland to Kirk Yetholm - was introduced in October and Mr Smith says it should be used to promote the area. And the Hawick councillor added that improvements to the Edinburgh Bypass were being sought to make the Borders a more reachable destination for visitors.

The final SBC response - to dual the A1 - was backed by Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton, the former executive member for roads and infrastructure.

He added: “I think this may be the most realisable of the proposals. Already the UK Government has promised to dual the road to Newcastle.”

Among the main concerns was the cumulative impact of wind farms, with SBC’s planners calling for the national policy to be redefined to consider the number of turbines already in the Borders and the growing scale of the machines, with the majority now being in excess of 120 metres.

Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook said the issue of wind farms had polarised his home county like never before.

He added: “I hope this paper will make the Scottish Government listen to the reasonable views in this area. We are all anxious about this issue.”