Criticism of Buccleuch’s approach to farming and forestry by Aeneas Nicolson (December 30, 2017) is unfounded and is not based on a true representation of the facts. This was made clear by Buccleuch at a recent community council meeting attended by Mr Nicolson.

Buccleuch has been completely open regarding its ongoing review of its farming operations and announced in June last year that a number of tenants on Limited Partnership agreements would be given the opportunity to purchase their farms, which was positively received by many within the industry including the STFA.

Since that time, Buccleuch has been in discussion with tenants occupying farms on a selection of tenancy types. This has led to new tenancies being agreed, the sale of farmland to existing tenants, the sale of property such as farmhouses as well as the retiral of some farmers. Buccleuch is also trying to phase out Limited Partnership agreements, in many cases converting these to new Modern Limited Duration Tenancies. We have also kept the Scottish Land Commission, which has a role in ensuring good landlord-tenant relationships, briefed on developments.

It is preposterous to suggest that the Border hills are to be covered by spruce. We have been open that forestry is an option for some land and the planting of trees is government policy. However, there are currently only a handful of farms – or parts of farms – where forestry is being considered as an alternative land use, and this is subject to a formal planning process. In the main where a tenancy has ended, the existing farmland has been reallocated to another farming unit, thereby increasing its potential. Buccleuch remains an active farmer, both through in-hand and our tenanted farms, and is committed to agriculture as well as other land uses.

John Glen

Chief executive, Buccleuch

27 Silvermills Court

Henderson Place Lane

Edinburgh EH3 5DG