Fears over our disappearing wilderness

For generations, people have gazed in wonderment at the outstanding natural beauty of the Cheviot foothills in the vicinity of Carter Bar.

Here is one of the last areas of the Borders with “a very remote feel, with wilderness value at the summits”. Those words in quotation marks are taken from a report prepared by consultants commissioned by Scottish Borders Council to review this region’s areas of great landscape value (AGLV).

And they go on to say: “It can be an exciting, dramatic landscape which draws you in with the promise of fine views from higher ground.” A truly ringing endorsement for our most spectacular gateway to Scotland.

So it is all the more remarkable that the same report recommends a dramatic reduction in the dimensions of a new Cheviot foothills special landscape area (SLA) which would replace the 60-year-old AGLV. The conclusion reached was that land from Morebattle in the north, running south-west to the border and Carter Bar was considered not worthy of designation.

Yet only five years ago a Cheviot Hills project – jointly set up by Northumberland National Park and Scottish Borders Council – was considering a list of innovative and worthwhile initiatives based on the concept of the Cheviots being managed as one landscape, irrespective of the England-Scotland boundary.

Now, it appears we are about to be asked to discard the special protection afforded by an AGLV while the English Cheviots continue to enjoy national park status. Surely the Cheviot foothills on our side of the border are just as beautiful as their counterparts in Northumberland.

At a time when our special landscapes and the communities within them are under severe pressure from the likes of wind turbine developers, we should be strengthening the protection which has stood the test of time for more than half a century.

I for one will be resisting the dangerous and unjustifiable measures proposed in the report, which is out for consultation for the next three months. I would urge as many others as possible to do the same, for if we fail the outcome will be the disappearance of that wilderness value the consultants talk about.

Councillor Jim Brown, Jedburgh and District