THE increased ‘industrialisation’ of a Tweeddale village is having a negative impact on tourism, locals have warned.

A planning application has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for the installation of a 35m-high telecommunication mast on land at Menzion Forest Block at Quarter Hill in Tweedsmuir.

The applicant, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, says the mast is needed to improve 4G coverage for people living, working and travelling in poorly-served rural areas.

But the application is facing opposition from villagers over its potential impact on tourism and the visual and historic environment.

Despite the concerns, members of SBC’s Planning and Building Standards Committee will be recommended to approve the application when they meet on Monday (August 7).

Among the objectors is Tweedsmuir Community Council.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Although it is quite difficult to identify the exact location of the proposed mast it appears it will be located on or near to the Silver Jubilee Road, overlooking Talla Reservoir, potentially visible from Talla Dam.

“The views of Talla Reservoir and the valley in which it sits are iconic and featured in materials promoting the area as a beautiful and unspoilt place to visit. It is enjoyed by locals and visitors as a place to walk, cycle, fish and watch birds.

“A review and update of Tweedsmuir’s community action plan was completed in autumn 2022. The updated plan highlighted that residents really value Tweedsmuir’s beautiful landscape and stressed the importance of retaining the unique, unspoilt and special landscape of the area.

“The progressive ‘industrialisation’ of our community through siting of communication masts such as the one proposed, undermine the community’s enjoyment of their locality.

“The community action plan also identified, as a strategy to support ongoing sustainability, the importance of developing Tweedsmuir as a place to visit to experience the unique natural environment and heritage. The siting of the proposed mast with associated potential negative impact upon the visual landscape will impact upon our ability to attract visitors to the area.

“Concern has also been expressed about the possibility, under provisions for permitted development, that the height of the mast may in the future be increased, without the need for community consultation.”

Among those supporting the application is Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) – a joint venture of the UK mobile network operators EE, Virgin Media O2, Three and Vodafone.

It said: “This application will provide essential coverage to the residents, business owners, and those visiting the area. The benefits of reliable mobile connectivity are far reaching and have positive impacts on many aspects of day-to-day life, making for a safer, more connected and more prosperous rural community.”