GO-AHEAD has been given to a telecommunication mast in an area of natural beauty despite concerns over the ‘industrialisation’ of a Tweeddale village.

A planning application was submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for the installation of a 35m high telecommunication mast on land at Menzion Forest Block at Quarter Hill in Tweedsmuir.

The applicant, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, said the mast was needed to improve 4G coverage for people living, working and travelling in poorly-served rural areas.

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But the application faced opposition from villagers over its potential impact on tourism and the visual and historic environment.

SBC’s Planning and Building Standards Committee refused the application by five votes to four in August.

Now that refusal has been over-turned on appeal to Scottish Government reporter Trudi Craggs, who “did not feel that the mast, once operational, would be visible in some views, given the vastness and scale of the landscape and the expansive views across it”.

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She concluded that the “integrity of the Tweedsmuir Uplands special landscape area and its landscape quality would not be significantly adversely affected”.

Among the objectors was Tweedsmuir Community Council, a spokesperson for whom said: “Although it is quite difficult to identify the exact location of the proposed mast it appears it will be located on or near to the Silver Jubilee Road, overlooking Talla Reservoir, potentially visible from Talla Dam.

“The views of Talla Reservoir and the valley in which it sits are iconic and featured in materials promoting the area as a beautiful and unspoilt place to visit.

“It is enjoyed by locals and visitors as a place to walk, cycle, fish and watch birds.

“A review and update of Tweedsmuir’s Community Action Plan was completed in autumn 2022.

“The updated plan highlighted that residents really value Tweedsmuir’s beautiful landscape and stressed the importance of retaining the unique, unspoilt and special landscape of the area.

“The progressive ‘industrialisation’ of our community through siting of communication masts such as the one proposed, undermine the community’s enjoyment of their locality.

“The Community Action Plan also identified, as a strategy to support ongoing sustainability, the importance of developing Tweedsmuir as a place to visit to experience the unique natural environment and heritage.

“The siting of the proposed mast with associated potential negative impact upon the visual landscape will impact upon our ability to attract visitors to the area.”