Councillors reject falconry building appeal

A bid to build a home for falconry workers outside of Hawick has been refused over concerns the operation was a “hobby not a business”.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 20th June 2022, 4:27 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 4:27 pm
Some councillors said falconry was a hobby, not a business.
Some councillors said falconry was a hobby, not a business.

Earlier this year, Scottish Borders Council refused a planning application to build a three bedroom property on land at Windrush in Highend.

The applicant Hamad Aloswadain had stated that employees involved with his Falcon and Hack Pen operation had been residing at his home, Windrush.

But that property had become over-crowded and Mr Aloswadain wanted to build a three-bedroomed house where the workers could reside.

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An appeal against planning refusal was considered by members of the council’s Local Review Body when they met today, Monday, June 20.

In a report refusing the application, council planning officer Scott Shearer, said the falconry operation at Windrush was not a business but a “family hobby” and, as such, there was no economic reason to justify the building of a house in such a remote location.

Members were told that employees were paid from the family’s wealth and not through funds generated by a commercial operation.

Members were divided over the appeal, but the majority agreed to dismiss it.

Councillor Neil Richards, for Hawick and Denholm, said: “The idea that it is a hobby implies no economic benefit but I would suggest that this is of economic benefit because there are other falconries around and it seems to be a growing thing. It may not be a regular business, it might be a hobby, but it is employing people. I would support the economic case for it.”

It was a view shared by East Berwickshire ward councillor Aileen Orr, who said: “There are many people with hobbies that have an incredible economic benefit to the locality. I would say there was a positive commercial basis for this.”

But Councillor Sandy Scott, for Jedburgh and District, disagreed: “They said it was a hobby, so it’s not a business. End of.”

Councillor Viv Thomson, for Tweeddale West, added: “I don’t think there is a business case. I am sympathetic to this application but I don’t think it meets the criteria.”

Councillor Marshall Douglas, for Tweeddale East, also his expressed his sympathy, adding: “It does employ people but he is not technically trading, not commercially using the birds for any purpose.”

The art of falconry, known as the ‘sport of kings’, is part of a traditional way of life in the Gulf region.

Over the centuries, the reasons for hunting have evolved from necessity to sport and then to a status symbol.