A PLANNING application for electrification work on a Victorian viaduct near Galashiels has been withdrawn after conservation concerns were raised.

As part of plans to electrify the entire Borders Rail network by 2035, a bid was submitted to Scottish Borders Council in September 2022 to install overhead line equipment onto the Redbridge viaduct at Galafoot, between Galashiels and Tweedbank.

The application was submitted by Network Rail for work to be carried out on the B-listed five span masonry arch viaduct located over the River Tweed.

The proposed works crossed the River Tweed special area of conservation (SAC) which is designated for its biological interest, including river lamprey, brook lamprey, sea lamprey, European otter, Atlantic salmon, and as a watercourse characterised by water crowfoot species.

NatureScot, which advises Scottish Government on nature conservation, raised concerns over the application.

A spokesperson said: “It is our conclusion that the works could have significant effects on the River Tweed if appropriate measures are not taken to protect the watercourse and its features.

“More information is required on equipment or heavy machinery that may be used in the installation of the overhead line equipment and if they will be used alongside the watercourse or if all work will be carried out on top of the viaduct.

“Surveys for otter should be carried out prior to any work commencing, and potential issues related to pollution of the water environment can likely be dealt with, and avoided, through a construction and environmental management plan.”

This week the application was marked as ‘withdrawn’ on the council’s planning application portal.

A submission with the original application from Network Rail said it was part of a greener future for the Borders Rail network that would result in a series of benefits for the travelling public.

It added: “These works are required to meet the Scottish Government’s key aim of de-carbonising the railways.

“The proposed works will clearly generate public benefits of national importance in terms of faster journey times for passengers and freight, improving connectivity, creating additional capacity, lowering industry operating costs, helping to meet environmental targets and improving air quality.

“All these benefits will support a model shift from private vehicles and heavy goods vehicles to rail increasing the operational, societal, environmental and economic benefits.”