Falahill folk in threat to quit over rail-road plans

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Four households in Falahill are threatening to leave due to the Borders Railway’s latest infrastructure plans around the tiny community.

And resident Helen Foster says the new application by Network Rail to run the A7 on one side of their homes, and the railway on the other, goes against a promise made in 2002 that Falahill would not be sandwiched in-between.

Ms Foster refers to a meeting in 2002 with residents and then Scottish Borders Council leader John Scott and Nick Ball, a PR representative for the railway project at the time, who both agreed that having the railway and road on either side of homes north of Heriot would be unacceptable.

Ms Foster added: “That promise was endorsed by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, but now Network Rail have broken it 11 years on and that is the reason why four homes are looking to move out.”

She has also accused Network Rail of a lack of consultation over the new application, and told us: “This is the third proposal and this has been hanging over us for 13 years. It has proved very distressing and upsetting.”

The latest drawings, submitted this month, replace a scheme involving two roundabouts which were described as “frankly ridiculous” by local councillor Sandy Aitchison in 2012, but were supported by eight of the then 11 households at Falahill in 2011.

A Network Rail spokesman denied it had failed to consult with residents.

The spokesman said: “In recent months we have spoken to every householder in the Falahill area at least three times.

“We have made some adaptations to the proposed redesign to meet the needs of residents.

“Existing private access is maintained to the east of the properties and a separate access road has been created to the west.”

He admitted the new design will not suit everyone, but believed it would offer an “overall better solution”, with extensive road lighting being avoided and less traffic noise due to absence of roundabouts.

Mr Scott said the residents’ views at the 2002 meeting formed part of the consultation for the Waverley Railway Bill, which was lodged with the Scottish Parliament a year later.

He added: “It has always been my personal view 
that when it comes to Falahill the rail and road 
should not sandwich the 
community.”