Local roads to take the HGV strain

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THE closure of a bridge near Hawick could force a huge volume of heavy goods traffic to use the precarious road linking Roberton and Ashkirk.

Scottish Borders Council roads officials believe that work to strengthen Martin’s Bridge, just south of Hawick, so that it can carry materials for a 10-turbine wind farm at Langhope Rig – three miles west of Ashkirk – will begin on August 7. That means the B711 from Roberton to Hawick, which carries the bulk of timber traffic from Craik Forest, will be closed for 18 weeks.

The disruption will also co-incide with a busy time for farmers who must get their lambs and calves to market. As a result, livestock hauliers will also be unable to use the more direct route to the A7 via the bridge (and hence south to the mart at Longtown) and are also set to use the Ashkirk road. The Ettrick Valley may also be hit and discussions are under way about the possibility of diverting traffic onto the B709 at Tushielaw.

Madge Anderson, an organiser of a public meeting tonight in Roberton’s Foreman Hall to discuss the issue, said she wanted to hear from locals, both individuals and businesses, who will be affected by the protracted bridge closure.

She said: “The wind farm development was bitterly opposed locally, not least because we simply don’t have the roads infrastructure, already straining under the weight of timber lorries, to support its construction. We want everyone, businesses and individuals, who will be adversely affected by the closure of the B711 to come along and vent their feelings.”

The 10-turbine Langhope Rig wind farm was rejected by SBC’s planning committee in 2007 after 370 local objections were lodged – a decision overturned by the Scottish Government .