Sir, – I was greatly interested in your article regarding the conflict of interests at Pityoulish Estate, Speyside, between the STFA and the owners of the estate over plans to plant a mix of forestry on arable ground. 

I must state that I agree with the STFA that with such land at a premium in that locality, they are correct to dispute the requirement to plant trees.

However, I am intrigued that a debate over 250 ha of planting seems to be freely available, but there has been little coverage of major farming closures throughout Buccleuch Estates. 

Again, there is an intention to plant commercial forestry on vast areas of agricultural land once tenancies have been terminated. 

I am aware that some approaches from the media have been made to the estate regarding their current policy, but it appears that when a press agency response is issued stating that this is merely a ‘review of expiring leases’ and that it relates to non-viable units and the uncertainty re future profitability of such, or that it is a result of farmers retiring from farming, the matter is not followed up.

There are examples of the reality of the situation throughout Borders and in Dumfries and Galloway. In Buccleuch’s Eskdale and Liddesdale Estate there are currently 10 farm units where leases have been terminated or notifications have been issued. 

Only one of these relates to a retiral from farming. In others, it appears that the farmers were oblivious to the fact that they were working ‘unviable’ units until Buccleuch advised them of this. Another three units were closed down some two years ago and these are now under trees.

Similar situations are being witnessed in Teviothead, Selkirk, Ettrick and Yarrow. Large numbers of units are facing closure and vast areas of the Border hills are to be covered in sitka spruce. 

This must count as potentially the most serious impact on rural areas since the Clearances and yet little has been written about it. 

Before any more farmers suffer the distress of having their livelihoods destroyed, it should be publicised.

Aeneas M Nicolson
Bridge House,
High Street,