Why are we 'unworthy' to be trusted to reflect the National Interest?
Is The Pans/ are East Lothian Council 'untrustworthy'?
'Tis true that the world divides between those who believe coincidences happen and those who don't. Such an observation comes readily to mind when the Scottish Government resolves to Call In the Planning Application for the putative Offshore Energy/ Inshore SubStation on the site of the old Cockenzie Power Station, tabled by Chinese investors Inchcape ... just as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is visiting China.
It's an unusual step for central government when the local planning authority indeed landowner has not yet had the opportunity to consider the Chinese Inchcape application. Such a step is normally taken 'in the National Interest' only when local planners are seemingly unprepared to accept what central government perceives as 'in the National Interest'. It's particularly incomprehensible except as an act of political grandstanding in this instance.
East Lothian Council [ELC] has already made clear on several fronts that it can and will act 'in the National Interest' ... most lately in respect of an additional 30,000 homes for an ever expanding Edinburgh and by giving previous consent to construct the putative SubStation on the northern edge of the 1745 battle site.
It was the community, not ELC, that rose up is anger about that battle site decision and more significantly at the time the Scottish Enterprise proposal to turn the whole area between Prestonpans and Cockenzie/ Port Seton into an Offshore Energy Park. And from that community resolve came an ELC-led 2 year x £150,000 process working in detail with the community to create a Master Plan that saw the light of day early this year.
It is clearly true that Prestonpans Community Council and others feel that their proposal into the Master Plan process for a Cruise Liner Terminal at Cockenzie had not been carefully explored and indeed still should be, BUT .. there has never been any suggestion that Offshore Energy should not come ashore and enter the National Grid through the infrastructure asset already in place as a legacy from Cockenzie Power Station. The issue was where best to locate it in the future commercial industrial complex proposed in the Master Plan - Zones A, B or C. The only redline came from the 1745 Battle Trust who remain firmly opposed to it being placed on Zone D - much of which is the battle site.
The Full Report, all Zones, is linked here MASTER PLAN
Chinese Inchcape promises extensive community consultation as it now knows it has heavyweight Scottish Government backing ....
The 'National Interest' issue at stake is clear. Where should the Chinese Inchcape OffShore/ OnShore SubStation be built? Should it be to the north or south of the shoreline road connecting Prestonpans to Cockenzie/ Port Seton? Both have readily straightforward connectivity to the National Grid. The Master Plan does not specify either. ELC are more than competent to have resolved the matter. In doing so it would certainly have listened sympathetically to the case from Prestonpans Community Council for a job creating Cruise Liner Terminal with potential for increased visitor numbers to East Lothian at large and not least the battle site, murals trail, Waggonway etc.
The extant, and second location lately tabled by Chinese Inchcape is for the SubStation to be on the northern side of the road, creating an inelegant no-job facility directly on the coastline. Such a location represents an own goal of a missed opportunity for our community. If it were to stand 'in the National Interest' to the south of the road the shoreline would be available for more appropriate and Yes, elegant, development.
So, time for our community to take a very deep breath and prepare for another round of consultation ..
The final observation here perhaps should be one we can all agree on:
..it's never all over till the Fat Lady sings ...
It might be best if Prestonpans Community Council now took the deliberate immediate initiative of demonstrating the extent of inshore as well as offshore facility that would be needed, drawing on other similar locations such as Invergordon or Kirkwall; and how these might readily be accommodated in Zones A, B & C alongside the necessary SubStation - suitably placed south of the shoreline road possibly partly or wholly below ground level?
The Proposal for Offshore facilities for the Cruise Liner Terminal is linked HERE
.... and Conservative MSP for South Scotland, Michelle Ballantyne, takes the initiative
.... Yes, it's looking increasingly like 'common sense' might prevail!
Published Date: April 15th 2018