THE U.S. Air Force have backed down to pressure and stopped using a firing range near to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland.
The Air Force had been using a range just a mile from the 53-year-old Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist centre for “multiple events within the past seven months”.
Residents raised their concerns for the use of the firing range after being worried it would shatter the tranquility of Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway.
One resident even described it as “like putting a nightclub next to a convent”.
But yesterday the US Air Force pulled a U-turn on the decision after claiming they were “unaware of concerns from the local community”.
Captain Kevyn Kaler, spokeswoman for the 352nd Special Operations Wing, wrote in an email: “We regret the disturbance that this has caused.
“We have suspended all training events at this area as a result.”
Kaler also said they had “no future plans to utilise this training area” to the delight of the monastery and locals.
The decision to withdraw from the training events came after nearly 20,000 people signed an online petition against the proposals to extend one of the firing ranges.
A recent update to the petition reads: “The US air force have decided to cease using our valley for their exercises.
“This is fantastic news but it is just one part of the battle.
“We still need to get the local council to hear our objections as to why these ranges are inappropriately located within Eskdalemuir but this is a very positive step.”
Since the change of plans were announced, petition signers have been delighted at the news.
Moira Brabender said: “That was a quick reaction! Well done everyone.
“It didn’t make sense in the first place to even think about locating near a world famous Buddhist temple and retreat.”
Fiona Atherton commented: “Such good news. Heart felt thanks for you and many others who work hard and fight for the rights of the common people.”
Liz McQueen posted: “Amazing news – thank you for the update.”
The owner of the land where the range is located had also applied for permission to develop the area to accommodate long-range firearms training.
They had been negotiating with the Air Force special operations unit to use it before the backlash from the community.
Kagyu Samye is used as a residential community and is home to over 60 people, a mixture of monks and volunteers.
The monastery was established in 1967 by Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to be established in the West and was named after Samye, the very first monastery in Tibet.