Energy park plan faces probe

Cockenzie. Picture: Colin Wright

Cockenzie. Picture: Colin Wright

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Campaigners fighting a proposed energy park say they have secured a major victory after MSPs agreed to investigate calls to scrap the project.

An 8000-signature petition was accepted by the Public Petitions Committee, meaning plans backed by Scottish Enterprise and East Lothian ­Council to build a huge offshore wind turbine factory and deep water port at Cockenzie power ­station will be scrutinised.

Campaigners claim that the huge industrial site would act as a barrier between the towns of Cockenzie, Port Seton and Prestonpans, increasing traffic on nearby roads and damaging the environment.

Residents also say the site will encroach on the historic battlefield at Prestonpans, and that the proposed sea port will require dredging that will ­disturb underground coal seams which could “turn the beaches of East Lothian black”.

In September, petition organisers the Coast Regeneration Alliance claimed that East Lothian Council had been lobbying the Scottish Government in secret since 2013 to include the energy park plan within the National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3), a blueprint for major development projects, without informing the community. CRA spokesman Carl Barber said: “We’re extremely pleased at the petition committee ­outcome to take the issue through parliament, and to take up the issue with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Power and East Lothian Council.

“We’re particularly pleased that this might result in the committee looking into the administrative error that stopped NPF3 being made public, which we would like to know more about.”

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray, who backed the CRA’s case, said Finance Secretary John Swinney should be called to account over the plans. Mr Gray said: “If the proposal persists in the face of local opposition I hope the committee will consider asking John Swinney to appear to explain himself.

“This site is important but we need to stop now, go back to the start and work with the community to develop plans.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “We will of course fully comply with any requests for information.”

A Scottish Power spokesman said: “We are aware of the other proposals for the site and we are always happy to meet with interested parties.”

Scottish Enterprise declined to comment.