Innerleithen log lorry concern

AN Innerleithen resident has put a puncture in Scottish Borders Council’s response to his complaints over large logging lorries using a rural road.

Ian Stewart is unhappy with the state of the B709, which runs from close to St Mary’s Loch, through the Tweeddale town, and joins up with the A7 at Heriot.

In particular, Mr Stewart is concerned about the northern stretch, which goes through Innerleithen Golf Club, where he is captain.

It is alleged the presence of the huge vehicles has made the B709 dangerous, with one car forced off the road and another badly damaged.

Mr Stewart raised the issue in January, and though SBC claimsto have discouraged the use of the road as a through route, the problem persists.

He said: “It is still happening and it is something which is probably happening across the Borders.

“The road is breaking up and the verges are being trashed but the philosophy seems to be that nobody really cares.

“I have tried to make enquiries but I never get a response. Whether the philosophy is ‘he’ll eventually give up’ I don’t know.

“It appears that one of the problems is that there are mills at Lockerbie and Pathhead and a bridge at Peebles is closed but that shouldn’t have an affect. These vehicles should be made to stick to A-class roads.

“The argument is that the council have no money but I believe it would be more cost-effective to repair the roads now.”

Mr Stewart added: “I would class the B709 as an unclassified road due to its current state.

“I believe it is just as bad on the southern side of the B709 going towards St Mary’s Loch, as I recently heard about a funeral at Traquair which was confronted by a big logging lorry.”

Brian Young, SBC’s network manager for environment and infrastructure, said that timber-carrying vehicles had as much right to use the road as a private car.

However, he added: “In conjunction with the timber industry, Scottish Borders Council operates a voluntary agreed timber transport routes map in order to try and restrict timber to those routes that are most suited to carrying them.

“On this map, the middle section of the B709 north of Innerleithen is designated as a ‘consultation route’ which means that operators should notify the council of their intention to use the route and that the council can agree restrictions on things such as the number and frequency of loads.

“In the case of this particular route, the intention has always been to facilitate the extraction of timber originating from the route itself but to discourage its use as a through route.

“From reports coming in recently, it would appear that some operators are not adhering to the spirit of the agreed routes map and this is being investigated through the south of Scotland timber transport officer, James England.

“If anyone has details of operators and/or registration numbers of offending drivers, the council would be happy to receive these and to pass them on.”

Tweeddale East councillor Gavin Logan added: “The timber contractors have paid no attention to the recent requests by the council to honour their agreement. The people of Innerleithen have had enough.”