Power cables could put spoke in wheels of Galashiels pump track bid

Plans for a pump track as part of a proposed £1.4m mountain bike trail at Galashiels could have a spoke put in their wheels because of high-voltage power lines overhead, community councillors have been warned.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 10:17 am
Bike trail designer Peter Laing.

Proposals for a network of trails connecting Ladhope golf course, Langlee and Blaikie’s Hill were first proposed in 2016 by then councillor Bill White, but it was only in March last year that details were revealed.

Preliminary talks have now been held with landowners potentially affected and other interested parties as the plans move up a gear, but they could be about to hit a stumbling block, this week’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council was told.

Mountain bike trail designer Peter Laing, giving an update on the progress of that scheme to the meeting, held at the town’s Focus Centre, warned that the future of a proposed pump track at Langlee is now hanging in the balance.

He told community councillors: “The plot that has always been suggested for the pump track at Langlee is underneath high-voltage power lines, so it will be interesting to see if that is something that can actually happen.

“There are houses underneath the power lines, so it may well be possible.

“That’s actually a big question about the Langlee site.

“If that’s not possible, we’ll have to find somewhere else.

“We need a group to drive that forward and investigate possible alternative sites.

“We do have this quite enthusiastic group in Stow who want to push forward with their pump track and and who have already been in touch with specialist contractors.

“It would be great if we had a similar situation at Langlee.”

Committee members agreed that contact should be made with Scottish Power to establish whether the electricity cables could stand in the way of the creation of the pump track at the site currently proposed.

Mr Laing said the next stage of the project is to form a committee and launch a bid for funding of the £1.4m scheme.

He also revealed that planting of trees to be carried out as part of the project would take Galashiels back to the future.

“I found a map of Ladhope and Galashiels from the 1800s and compared it with the planting scheme, and it is almost identical to what was there 150 years ago, so we are really turning the clock back in a lot of ways to the recreation area which was part of the Ladhope Estate,” he said.

“It’s pretty much back to what it was.”

Mr Laing said the initial response to the scheme had been generally supportive from landowners, although safety concerns had been raised by dog walkers in Langlee Woods over health and safety issues and residents of Langlee Mains over potential loss of privacy.

He said the general reaction to the proposed scheme had been mainly positive, however, with 24 responses at a recent forum all offering it their support.

Most of the land being eyed up to host the proposed cycle trails is owned by Scottish Borders Council’s Galashiels common good fund.

It owns Ladhope recreation ground, an area of about 59 hectares including the golf course, and Langlee Woods, 26 hectares of mostly mature broadleaf woodland featuring some steep terrain.

About 54 acres of land once part of Glendearg Farm is envisaged as being at the centre of the trail network, and further expanse of private woddland is also being eyed up to host cycle trails.