A LEGAL challenge has been launched against a 700-hectare plantation surrounding one of Scotland’s most famous country walks. 

A petition for a judicial review was submitted to the Edinburgh Court of Session last month regarding the dominantly Sitka spruce woodland at the John Buchan Way, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

In its early stages, the legal action was taken by a group of residents, who argue that Scottish Forestry (SF) has fallen foul of the law by failing to carry out an environmental impact assessment into the long-term effect on local moorland and wildlife.

As we have reported, the Stobo Residents Action Group (SRAG) had hoped to raise around about £35,000 to challenge SF at Scotland’s highest civil court. 

Of the legal action, an SF spokesperson said: “We are aware that judicial review proceedings have been raised in respect of the woodland-creation scheme at the Stobo Estate. It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing litigation.” 

Known as the “Stobo Woodland Creation” project, the plantation is being overseen by Pryor and Rickett Silviculture on behalf of True North Forestry Carbon Sequestration Fund. It’s understood that planting can continue at the site while the legal challenge goes through the courts. 

The bid to quash the plantation is being undertaken by Balfour and Manson solicitors on behalf of SRAG. Forestry Journal contacted both for comment. 

A petition submitted to the Court of Session read: “Judicial review of a screening decision by Scottish Forestry dated 18 January 2024 under the Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 in relation to a proposed forestry project known as ‘Stobo Woodland Creation’.” 

The 13-mile long trail between Peebles and Broughton was created 21 years ago in honour of John Buchan, the writer of the spy thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan, born in Perth in 1875, had extensive connections to the area, and his brother Walter served as town clerk in Peebles.