A POPULAR shooting range has been given permission to operate longer hours, despite objections from a nearby village.

The owners of Braidwood shooting range, Bisley Shooting Group, wants to extend its Sunday shooting hours from 11am-3pm to 10am-7pm, in line with other weekdays.

The hours are controlled by the conditions of the club’s planning permission, which restrict the operating hours on Sundays. 

A planning statement, submitted to Scottish Borders Council by Bisley Shooting Group, reads: “The weekends are the most popular days for the use of the facilities we offer and it would be a great advantage, and help us improve our service, if we were able to have normal working hours on Sundays in line with the terms for the rest of the week.

“The sporting clay layouts on the grounds are built to national and international competition standards and we are regularly asked to hold shoots for national selection and international competitions.  

“These competitions are held over the weekend and it is important to have the full use of the Sunday for these competitions to be able to take place successfully.

“Our regular shooting clients would be most grateful for those extra hours on Sundays, especially during the long summer days. 

“From a business point of view it would be encouraging for the staff to be able to maximise prime time and help improve turnover.

“We are very lucky to have the shooting area set in high ground but in a bowl with large bunds that provide a very effective noise barrier.  

“We have a very good relationship with our neighbours in Midlem village and are not aware of any noise issues that concern them.”

However, twelve objections from the tiny village have been lodged with the council’s planning department, with the majority of concerns being about noise on Sundays. 

The application was heard by elected members sitting on the council’s planning and building standards committee, which met on Monday to discuss the proposals.

Appearing before the committee, Midlem resident Tony Clay, representing the Midlem Hall Committee, said: “It’s been stated that there are effective noise bunds but no noise monitoring has ever been carried out to measure the effects of these bunds, therefore we can only rely on anecdotal evidence.

“The noise bunds did appear to mitigate the noise in the early days, however, recently there has been a noticeable increase in noise.

“Some shots have now been altered from a dull thud to a loud sharp crack, sometimes accompanied by an echo.

“Although the range has been operated for some time, it has moved on from being a local club shoot, to an actively marketed commercial enterprise which continues to expand and produce increasing levels of noise.

“There may be scope for lessening the noise impact, by reducing the loading weight of cartridges and ensuring that any limits are enforced.”

Council planning officers told the committee that only one valid complaint had been lodged with Environmental Health since planning permission was granted in August 1995.

They recommended approving the application, and allowing the extended operating hours for a trial period of nine months.

Councillors were also told that monitoring of the site would only be triggered by complaints received by Environmental Health, and therefore continuous monitoring throughout the trial period would be impossible. 

Kelso councillor Simon Mountford said: “This is one of those ‘on balance’ type of decisions. I’m very sympathetic to the resident because as they have suggested Sunday is a day of rest, when people would like to enjoy the peace and quiet, and have reasonable expectation of that.

“But, this is an existing business, and the problems with monitoring have been explained, so I feel it would be unreasonable to refuse the application until there has been a reasonable period where we can monitor the impact of the relaxation of the conditions.

“I will support the officers recommendation.”

The committee agreed, barring Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson, who voted against, to go with the recommendation of council officers and approve planning permission.