Sir, – As one who campaigned on behalf of David and Alison Telfer when Buccleuch Estates notified them of their intention to end their lease on Cleuchfoot Farm (as featured in last week's front page of The Scottish Farmer), I am, naturally, pleased that they will enjoy an element of security until retirement – although on a much reduced acreage.

Sadly, however, in the midst of the 'back slapping' from the parties who co-operated to achieve this limited success, there appears to be a major 'spin' which attempts to hide the reality of the situation.

It is now being overlooked that the Cleuchfoot tenancy was being terminated more than a year prior to the ground being incorporated in the recent Buccleuch land sale – Buccleuch, at that time, stating publicly and repeatedly that it was their intention to plant commercial forestry on the ground. It had actually taken back the hill ground and purchased the hefted flock prior to the sale of the farm.

As is well documented, Buccleuch Estates received some bad publicity for their actions in this case and others throughout the Borders, and despite the assertions of the recently appointed executive chairman, Benny Higgins, there was little if any effort to find a compromise solution.

After the closing date for the sale of what was entitled 'Evertown Estate' – but prior to announcement of the new owners – I received a 'phone call from a MSP, in which I was politely requested to 'back off' from campaigning and it was suggested that I might jeopardise efforts underway which might prove beneficial to the Telfers.

Naturally, I did not wish to create such a problem and, albeit reluctantly, I acquiesced. I was not made aware of who had requested this MSP to make the 'phone call.

In retrospect, I see that by ending the public scrutiny of their actions, Buccleuch have now accomplished precisely the result they wished. They had already issued notification of their intention to end a number of leases in this area.

They have, by selling to a major forestry interest, relieved themselves of those unwanted tenants and when trees are planted, they will not be subjected to scrutiny for their past denials that they intended such action.

While all future forestry plans will be in the name of another company, the result will be precisely the same. Farming units will have gone and sitka spruce will rule.

The major incentive to end farming tenancies remains the ill-conceived Forestry Grant Scheme. The Scottish Government is still, apparently, content to dispense, with largesse, public funds to the largest and wealthiest landowners in an incentive for them to create modern day 'Clearances'.

Perhaps it is time for Fergus Ewing to publicly defend this policy.

Aeneas M Nicolson

Bridge House,