Two Borders estates have showcased their agriculture, renewable energy, nature based tourism and community activities during a visit by Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP, Calum Kerr.
Philiphaugh Estate and Bowhill Estate, both near Selkirk, hosted the visit by Mr Kerr, who is the SNP’s Lead Westminster Spokesperson on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Meeting employees, tenants and estate owners, Mr Kerr learned more about the diverse range of enterprises currently present on the two estates and plans for future growth.
During the morning, Mr Kerr met Sir Michael Strang Steel of Philiphaugh Estate and was given a guided tour of various facilities that attract locals and tourists to the estate, including the Waterwheel Cafe, Salmon Viewing Centre and the recently installed Philiphaugh Hydro Station on the River Ettrick. There was also the opportunity to discuss agricultural matters with tenant farmer Alan McClymont, look at the sporting activities at Philiphaugh, as well as speak to Doug Anderson, a member of local community group Ettrick Forest Archers, who access the estate for long bow archery.
Sir Michael Strang Steel: “It was a good opportunity to meet Calum and discuss a range of rural business matters with him. We welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate how a small landed estate has adapted and changed from its traditional enterprises of farming and forestry to embrace the future through community projects, nature based tourism, renewable energy, battlefield tours, school visits and education initiatives. Some inaccurate commentary perceives estates stuck in the past but enterprises such as ours are committed to working with politicians, businesses and community alike to deliver for rural Scotland. We would like to thank Calum for visiting us and showing such an interest in our activities.”
Moving a few miles west to Bowhill Estate in the afternoon, The Duke of Buccleuch and estate manager Edward Morris were on hand to welcome Mr Kerr and look at the forestry, property and agricultural activities on the estate. There was also the opportunity to visit the innovative new 200kW anaerobic digestion plant which turns muck and straw into green electricity and heat which are used on the farms at the estate.
The Duke of Buccleuch welcomed Calum's visit to the Bowhill Estate: "We were delighted that Calum was generous with his time and thus able to see the spread of activities that provide significant local employment and, most importantly, to meet some of those at the sharp end. From young apprentice Ryan Clyne to highly experienced Farm Manager Sion Williams he was able to hear first-hand experiences of what is needed to create prosperous enterprises that benefit the whole community. As Sion pointed out, it is the large scale of the estate that enables pioneering work such as sophisticated animal breeding trials or the new flagship £1.4m green energy producing anaerobic digester. With Calum's key role as SNP Rural Affairs Spokesperson at Westminster we look forward to keeping in regular contact.”
Calum Kerr MP said: "I was pleased to be able to make the visits - it was a valuable and worthwhile day. It's always useful to be able to pay a personal visit, have face to face discussions with people and to talk to those on the ground and discover at first-hand what they're doing.
"The Duke, Sir Michael and the others who were involved gave me a lot of their time to explain what they've been doing and that was really helpful. I was shown a number of their initiatives and was particularly interested in their sustainability and clean energy generation. There's some really interesting forward thinking going on and it was really good to see that."
The visit by Mr Kerr to the two estates was organised by Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners across Scotland.
Rachael Wright, Scottish Land & Estates’ regional manager for south east Scotland, said: “Our thanks go to Calum for taking the time to visit Philiphaugh and Bowhill Estates today. The two estates provide a small glimpse of the exceptional work that land-based businesses are undertaking which is showcased through our Helping It Happen campaign. We are pleased that those who work on the estates also had their chance to speak to their local MP at a time of both challenge and opportunity in our rural areas.”