I wish to invite the Scottish Borders Council spokesperson who “hit back” (Landscape protection review ‘is faulty’, Southern, November 24) with such apparent confidence at my submission on SBC’s Local Landscape Designation Review to grant me the courtesy of actually reading my report.
The spokesperson would then find:
1. That it revealed his or her ignorance in needing to assert to your reporter that the guidance used by the consultants was the official one issued by Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland, since the first 14 pages of my report compare, paragraph by paragraph, the consultants’ process with the detail of that excellent official guidance.
2. That the official guidance has, incontrovertibly, been ignored at every important turn.
3. That the official guidance states: “The involvement of stakeholders in each phase of the designation process is critical to its success ... Particular care should be taken to identify the key stakeholders, including both local communities and the wider public”.
4. That the failure to consult the wider public was the root cause of a faulty, largely desk-based methodology being adopted, resulting in evaluations and boundaries which have left many members of the public puzzled and astonished.
5. That the presence of SNH officials on the SBC’s steering group (which contained no community representatives) was so demonstrably not “invaluable in ensuring the study took proper account of the guidance” that if the matter were to come to an official inquiry, the officials concerned would have to answer some searching questions.
Although SBC’s first letter acknowledging receipt of submissions promised that they would be included with the officers’ report to the planning committee, this was withdrawn the same day, to be replaced by another with no reference to how the committee would know the results of the post-hoc public consultation. On enquiry, I learn that officers will “consider” submissions and report – i. e. they will be interpreted by people who perhaps, like the spokesperson, do not value the flaunted “transparency and robustness” of the democratic process.