Farmer left an ‘emotional wreck’ over studio eviction fears

Edinburgh famer Jim Telfer of Old Pentland Farm has taken a petition to the Scottish Parliament. Copper the Shetland Pony lends his support.
Edinburgh famer Jim Telfer of Old Pentland Farm has taken a petition to the Scottish Parliament. Copper the Shetland Pony lends his support.
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Film studio eviction fears have left an 82-year-old tenant farmer “devastated”, his daughter has revealed.

Jim Telfer was at the Scottish Parliament to hand in a petition against plans for a £230 million film studio which he believes would see him turfed out of the home his family has held for 100 years.

He was joined by campaigners fighting to save Old Pentland Farm in Midlothian, and a Shetland Pony named Copper sporting a jacket with a “Save Jim’s Farm” slogan on it.

Mary Begbie, 50, said her father had been left an “emotional wreck” by fears he would be forced out of his home.

She said: “This has affected him very badly. He’s absolutely devastated, but has no intention of moving.

“He is under huge emotional pressure. This is his life’s work, not something he can dip in and dip out of.

“He wants to hand the farm on to his family and hand it down through the generations. He must be crumbling inside.

“This is not something someone at his age should have to go through.”

But the landowner has accused objectors of “inventing a movie script worthy of Hollywood” in an effort to block the plans.

Nick Gibsone, whose family owns the site at Straiton, added that he had become the victim of “outrageous smears and false allegations” from objectors.

He has also denied that Mr Telfer would be forced to leave his home, stressing that the planning process and any consent would not lead to eviction.

He said: “Different proposals have been put to Mr Telfer to try to reach amicable resolution on consents being granted, including the option of remaining in his home, farming an alternative plot of land and receiving a six-figure compensation sum.

“We have also offered independent mediation to Mr Telfer, a process which we would bear the cost of. A response to that offer to mediate is awaited.

“We are clear that we wish to reach an amicable resolution with Mr Telfer. This is not helped, however, by a handful of protesters – who want to see the studio blocked at any cost to the local economy and wider creative sector in Scotland – falsely accusing me of conducting ‘Central Belt clearances’, which is absurd.”

A decision on planning permission now rests with the Scottish Government after the council failed to make a ruling on the application within a 16-week deadline.

Ian Baxter, a Green councillor for the ward, previously proposed Shawfair as a better location for the development.

Alison Johnstone and Andy Wightman, Green MSPs for Lothian, were joined by Green co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP to oppose the plans.

Mr Wightman said: “The film studio may be a good idea but it’s the wrong location, and the stress this is placing on Jim, his family and the wider community is simply unacceptable.

“The site is good-quality farmland and should be protected, especially when there are other locations more appropriate for commercial developments.

“The residents of Damhead and Old Pentland are due credit for galvanising support in this campaign, and the Green MSPs were delighted to welcome them to Parliament. Let’s hope Scottish ministers heed the strength of local feeling on this issue.”

Mr Wightman has been asked to remove statements published in relation to the owner of the land but he has declined and stands by them.

Members of the Damhead community, representatives from the Damhead Community Council and the campaign group gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to show their support for the family, where they were received by Mr Wightman and Ms Johnstone.