Local MP John Lamont, and Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Cllr Mark Rowley, have reacted with astonishment after the Scottish Government attempted to force Scottish Borders Council to remove protections for the extension of the Borders Railway.
The extension of the Borders Railway is due to go from its current terminus in Tweedbank onto Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle. This is the preferred route of Scottish Borders Council and the Campaign for Borders Rail and is protected within the council’s Local Development Plan (LDP).
However, the Scottish Government has thrown the extension plans into disarray after attempting to remove the protections within the LDP.
Council papers, due for debate on Thursday 10th March, reveal that the ‘Scottish Government seek removal of any indication of a preferred route for a railway extension from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.’
However, Conservative led Scottish Borders Council have revealed that they will be defying the request.
John Lamont MP said:
“This is an absolute bombshell for the future of this project and calls into question SNP support for the extension to Hawick and Newcastleton.
“Scottish Conservatives at Borders Council are absolutely right to refuse this request and I hope that all councillors from all parties will take the same stance.
“For the Borders Railway to truly live up to its name it needs to be extended to serve Hawick and Newcastleton before arriving in Carlisle.
“I am urging the Scottish and UK governments to push on and get the feasibility study done as soon as possible. But this has thrown a real spanner in the works from the SNP.
Cllr Mark Rowley, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, added:
“The Scottish Conservative led Borders Council wants to give our full-throated support to the Borders Railway extension to Carlisle via Hawick and Newcastleton.
“I was aghast when I saw this request from Transport Scotland.
“Transport Scotland’s ask to remove the protections we have put in place for the extension in our Local Development Plan for the next five years is ridiculous. It adds unnecessary risk just as the feasibility study gets underway with the £10m we have secured through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
“This council is fully behind the project, so I’m pleased officers have declined this request.
“I hope that all colleagues on the council will support this."