Campaigners fight to save Midlothian Farm

Monday September 26th 2016

Jim Telfer with Family Cows

Jim Telfer’s grandfather first began working his family’s 60-acre farm at Damhead in 1915. Over 100 years later Jim is still working the farm and producing local food for Edinburgh. Mr Telfers’ hold on the land is regulated by the Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886 and the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911.

The Midlothian Council and the local community have rejected the planning proposal, but the developers called it in to the Scottish Government under National Importance.

Damhead, the local community is backing their farmer and with the support of their local council, have said “It’s time decision makers realised when a film studio proposal fits within the community and when it really doesn’t.”

The proposed film studio development is set to go on grade 2 and 3 agricultural land, of which there is less than 8% in all of Scotland.

The Damhead Community Council have said:

“It is in the interest of the nation to save the best agricultural land and stop the central belt clearances. It is of national interest that food security, green land and farming resilience take priority. And it is of national interest that developers are made to match up with Scottish Government policies and targets as well as local development plans for a greener and more sustainable Scotland.”

The community have called for better protection of our farmers, their rights and protection of agricultural land saying “We maintain that this is not the location for a film studio.”

“We recognise that there is a need for a film studio in Scotland but are adamant that too much is at stake here with the loss of biodiversity, farm land, human rights and the loss of a democratic planning system, negating the purpose of local planning policies should this private development be granted permission”.

The recent amendments of the Land Reform Act could give Mr Telfer the preemptive right to buy the land and the local community has backed him saying “We will do whatever it takes to keep this land farming and save our farmer from this hideous eviction!”.

New evidence with Scottish Government on the Pentland Film Studio application reveals the true nature of what campaigners call a Trojan horse development, which includes a major Power Station development on prime agricultural land with serious public health implications.

Evidence has revealed the so called Pentland Film Studios will include a Gas, Chip and Pellet fired Power Station with 8 Chimneys set to run day and night, generating an initial load of 60 million watts and emissions over 1,000 times more than the National Upper Limit set by Air Quality Scotland.

The evidence has also revealed the developers intend to sell this energy to the grid all under the operational name “Film Studio”, confirming the developers will not just be making movies, but noise, light and air pollution are the hidden poison of this application say campaigners. Residents have asked if this still constitutes a film studio.

Questions now must be asked to Scottish Government as to why they are holding off on another major opportunity to deliver a viable and sustainable Film Studio at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.

Protect Damhead’s Greenbelt, the campaign group fighting to save their farmer and farm, have already confirmed there would be no loss of agricultural land as it would take place on land already commercially zoned and owned by the university as part of its campus at Heriot Watt Research Park, further there would be no evictions, no power station, no hotel, just a Film Studio with 6 stages and a post production unit.

The major £55m plan to build an international film studio at Heriot Watt University could relocate to the European mainland if it does not receive backing in Scotland.

Both key film industry figures and those objecting the Pentland Studios have said of the Heriot Watt proposal “This proposal makes sense and if the Film Industry and Film Studio Delivery Group in Scotland knows what’s good for it they would take this opportunity now”.

Commenting Green MSP Alison Johnstone said

“I believe that our Greenbelt was given this designation for a reason, and that we must resist attempts to ride a coach and horses through planning guidelines. Lothian has a growing population. Surely we should all be considered about making sure that it’s a resilient population, one that strives to grow at least some of its own food? Why should our Greenbelt go to the highest bidder? ”

Conservative MSP, Jeremy Balfour is writing to the Government Reporter to raise his and local concerns.

Damhead Community have called for immediate action saying: “Please save our farmer and his family, please save our agricultural land, please sign our petition now”.

The deadline to sign the petition closes at Midnight on the 28th September 2016 and will be presented at Scottish Parliament on the following day click HERE.

Jim Telfer with his Family

Tweet Share on Facebook