Live updates

Sheikh submits falconry plans for Scottish Borders

A Falcon Credit: PA

Plans have been submitted to turn a remote farm in the Scottish Borders into a falconry breeding and training centre for the Qatar royal family.

Businessman Sheikh Ali Bin Abdulla Althani wants to make the 48-acre farm near the village of Bonchester Bridge, Roxburghshire, into a bird of prey centre.

He plans to breed falcons and sell them in the Middle East where they are extremely popular.

But he is also planning for wealthy guests, including members of the Qatar royal family, to visit the converted Weensmuir Farm to inspect the birds in training and make their purchases.

His lavish plans will see the main farmhouse extended and the stables and other outbuildings converted for accommodation.

The Sheikh's plans will also see several pens built to house the falcons, as well as new access tracks and the formation of a lake.

A Falcon is rewarded Credit: PA

In a supporting statement in his application for planning permission to Scottish Borders Council, the Sheikh stated:

"The business will depend upon custom from visiting high-net individuals, many of whom are members of the Royal Family or considered dignitaries. As such the business needs to offer a high quality, purpose built facility.

"In addition the majority of the visiting customers expect to travel with a considerable entourage of between 12 and 15 people. It is expected that these persons will be accommodated alongside the visiting customers."

Architect James Murdie from Alnwick, Northumberland, who submitted the plans on the Sheikh's behalf, said:

"The Sheikh is friendly with someone who does a bit of breeding on a supporting farm so he has decided to breed falcons which will supply dignitaries in the Middle East.

"He anticipates a lot of people coming from the Middle East to look at the falcons in training so he needs to provide the accommodation for some very wealthy businessmen."

If the full planning application is successful the business will support two full-time jobs and three part-time positions.

A decision from Scottish Borders Council on the plans is expected within the next two months.