Cautious view of water tank plan

PLANS to site a massive tank for the storage of drinking water in a designated Area of Great Landscape Value just outside Selkirk were revealed at the town’s community council meeting on Monday night.

Members heard that Scottish Water wants to erect the covered concrete structure – 56 metres long, 39 metres wide and eight metres high – on land west of South Common Cottages, about a third of a mile south of the town. It will be surrounded by a barbed wire anti-intruder fence.

It is part of a major development which will require a new access road to be created from the large layby on the A7.

Despite its location, Scottish Natural Heritage has not objected to the proposal, nor has the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Scottish Water says the so-called clear water tank (CWP), storing treated water from the Howden boreholes, is required “to provide for future growth in the Selkirk settlement”.

And the quango says that, in addition to the tank, extensive underground pipe-laying will be required.

But, in a submission to Scottish Borders Council planners, it has offered assurances that bunding, earthworks and landscaping will minimise the visual impact of the installation.

“Given that the site is in an Area of Great Landscape Value, it may raise concerns that the tank will project from the hillside and impact on the visual amenity,” states the quango.

“We are confident, however, that the proposed bunding and grass planting will soften the impact of the structure. The specific location of the tank is that it ‘sits’ into the hillside. Existing trees along the road verge will also screen the area. We will engage our landscape architect to appraise the scheme and produce a plant/landscape specification if deemed required.”

But community councillors were concerned about the visual impact of the facility.

“This is a huge structure which, I understand, will supply fresh water from the Howden boreholes to Hawick and Jedburgh,” said chairman Gordon Edgar.

“Although we could find no policy grounds to object, we have agreed to write to SBC planners asking them to ensure the tank, which will be clearly visible as you enter the town from the south, is as inobstrusive as possible and that security lights are not installed.”

Without objections, the project is expected to be approved under powers delegated to SBC planning officers.