The developers behind plans for a £250 million Scottish film studio on greenbelt land on the outskirts of Edinburgh have denied the project is suffering significant delays.
In April 2017 PSL Land, who want to build Pentland Studios near Straiton, Midlothian, said they had “hoped” the first studio facilities would be operational by late 2018. They also said it could “kick-start” the Scottish film industry.
However, the company now says since the 2018 date was first mooted the project had to go through the planning process, including 15 elements which have now been agreed with Midlothian Council.
They also refuted claims from film industry expert Alison Piper the project could be delayed by years due to a potential lengthy court battle with Jim Telfer, a tenant farmer who is refusing to leave.
Ms Piper, who has been assistant director on films such as T2 Trainspotting and Sunshine on Leith, has written an open letter to the film industry on delays to the project and said it may be time the industry considered alternatives.
“I find it improbable that the company behind Pentland Studios, PSL Land Ltd, will be authorised to break ground within the next four to five years,” she said.
“I would suggest that as film and TV practitioners we would be wise to consider, at this stage, whether we should continue to support Pentland Studios in perpetuity.
“Perhaps we should be campaigning for more realistic developments?”
Andy Wightman, land reform spokesman for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said: “It is time other voices within the film industry recognised that, although there is widespread support for a film studio, it must be built in the right place.”
A spokeswoman for PSL Land said: “The proposal was called in by the government after Midlothian Council failed to make a ruling on the application, which was originally submitted in 2014.
“There is nothing to suggest that the project ‘could be delayed by years’, either due to planning matters or PSL having access to the site.
“Earlier planning considerations did take longer than PSL was originally advised.
“The exact timing is subject to the planning process and we are confident the project’s momentum will continue to proceed apace.”
The Association of Film and Television Practitioners Scotland defended its backing for the project. “AFTPS supports any bid to build professional sound stages in Scotland, including the Pentland Studios, after scrutiny from its members,” said the association’s spokesperson, Belle Doyle.