Dye firm boss claims business may dry up

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A BORDERS businessman has claimed the future of industrial development in the Riverside area of Selkirk could be under threat.

The claim comes following increased water abstraction by Scottish Water at its borehole site at Howden on the southern haugh of the Ettrick Water.

Keith Hendrie, who runs Bridgehaugh Dyeworks, told the December meeting of Selkirk community council of his concerns that the water on which his business depends could dry up in future years.

When he bought the firm he also acquired a Victorian well, situated appropriately under nearby Victoria Park, which has supplied him with free water required for the dyeing process.

But he claimed that in the decade since water was abstracted from the Howden boreholes, the levels in his well had dropped by around three feet and now averaged a depth of just 32 inches.

“I am here to flag up the fact that further abstraction from Howden will be to the detriment of the water table at Riverside,” said Mr Hendrie. “If it gets worse I will be forced to consider having my own borehole and this will cost between £10,000 and £20,000.

“My firm is currently weathering the economic storm and we have recently taken on five new staff, taking our workforce to 35, after acquiring a dyeing firm in Huddersfield. We have plans for further expansion next year, but this may be put on hold until my water problems are sorted out.

“Other businesses down here also depend on water from wells.”

He said that, earlier this year, he had objected to borehole expansion plans at Howden, but his views had been ignored.

Mr Hendrie was commenting as the community council considered plans from Scottish Water to site a massive tank for the storage of drinking water from Howden at South Common Farm, just off the A7 south of the town.

Although councillors could find no reason to oppose the application for consent to Scottish Borders Council on planning grounds, they agreed to write to planners asking them to mitigate, as far as possible, the visual impact of the development.

Asked to respond to Mr Hendrie’s concerns, Bill Elliot, Scottish Water’s regional communities manager for the Borders, said: “We had an existing four boreholes and have developed a fifth, permission for which was granted following extensive field tests and full consultation with our environmental regulator, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

“Following extensive tests into the potential impact on the water table, SEPA was satisfied this would not cause any issues.

“Scottish Water has been in contact with Mr Hendrie regarding his borehole issues and we are happy to speak to him further.”

Councillor Vicky Davidson, SBC’s executive member for economic development, told TheSouthern: “It is obviously concerning when a successful businessman expresses fears over infrastructure constraints on his firm’s expansion.

“I have agreed that SBC engineers, including a hydrologist, should meet Mr Hendrie to get a clearer picture of the impact on his business.”