Landlord denies farmer is being forced off land to make way for development of film studios in Edinburgh.
Scottish farmer Jim Telfer says he will be ’evicted’ from his family farm in Damhead if the Scottish Government approves a planning proposal for a film studio on his smallholding.
Midlothian Council and the local community have rejected the proposal for the privately owned Pentland Film Studio but developers have called it in to the Scottish Government under National Importance.
The proposed film studio development is set to go on grade 2 and 3 agricultural land, of which there is less than eight per cent in all of Scotland.
However the Gibsone family, who own the land, strenuously denied Mr Tefler was being evicted, adding numerous attempts had been to mediate and various offers ’are on the table’.
The Damhead community council 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 farming and 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 green and more sustainable Scotland.
“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.”
The local community in Damhead have been backing their farmer with the support of the local council.
Mr Telfer’s hold on the land is regulated by the Crofters Holding (Scotland) Act 1886 and the small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911.
Recent amendments to the Land Reform Act means Mr Telfer could be granted the pre-emptive right to buy the land.
- Damhead community
The Scottish Tennant Farmers Association (STFA) expressed their concern with the development and said: “This situation also highlights the vulnerability of tenant farmers who are powerless to resist a notice to quit if planning permission is granted over the whole holding.
“Small landholding tenants such as Mr Telfer have even less protection against aggressive development and are even more at risk.”
Nick Gibsone, whose family own the farmland, said the allegations were 'outrageous'.
“We have never issued any threats to anyone and have always sought to do the right thing. We have made a number of offers in good faith to the farmer in question who farms approximately 56 acres of a small holding.
"These offers include him and his wife remaining in the farmhouse and also having land to farm should they wish. We have also offered a substantial financial package that could be increased should they choose to leave the farm. There is no question of them being forced to leave their home. There are a number of offers on the table and also an offer of independent mediation.
“The campaign group has blatantly misrepresented the situation for their own ends which are to stop the film studio development at all costs.”