Bonchester to welcome Qatari royalty

THE BORDERS is to welcome one of the richest royal families in the world.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to a falconry breeding centre in Bonchester Bridge by applicant Sheikh Ali Abdullah Bin Jassom Al Thani.

The Qatar businessman says the breeding of birds of prey is a favoured hobby in his home country, with members of the Qatari royal family expected to visit the new facility.

Head of the family, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, emir of Qatar, is said to have a personal net worth of 2.5billion and was linked with a bid to buy Manchester United in 2011.

Planning committee member, councillor Donald Moffat, said: “These are the type of people we want to attract and hopefully when they see the Borders they will want to travel elsewhere in Scotland.”

Despite Scottish Borders Council’s roads officer Derek Inglis raising no objections to the plans for the former farmhouse, which will not be open to the public, Kelso councillor Simon Mountford warned of potential congestion issues associated with the Qataris.

He said: “I am supportive but if they are anything like our royal family they will have a huge level of security, which means there will be a number of cars with every visit.”

In support of Sheikh Ali’s bid, SBC were told that the Bonchester Bridge base would breed and then sell the hawks to guests who would stay in accommodation built as part of the application.

This will allow visitors to watch the birds train before buying.

Agent James Murdie told planners: “This client and development will bring a huge financial advantage to this rural region from an everyday use basis to visiting clients and family from Qatar.”

Alongside the construction of breeding and hack pens, a pond will also be created.