Prestonpans fight over substation at historic site

A re-enactment of The Battle of Prestonpans which saw Bonnie Prince Charlie triumph. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
A re-enactment of The Battle of Prestonpans which saw Bonnie Prince Charlie triumph. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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ALMOST 270 years after Bonnie Prince Charlie’s victory, a new battle is brewing on the historic site at Prestonpans – fighting off plans for an ­energy substation.

The Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust is raising troops against what it calls “astonishing” plans by two renewable energy companies to build on the sacred ground.

The developers want to site a substation in Prestonpans to take energy ashore from the Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm which is to be built 15-22km off the coast of Angus.

The farms, which will have up to 213 wind turbines, will be linked to five offshore substations which will then use buried cables to connect to the station in Prestonpans.

Graphics provided by the two firms show the proposed site lying just behind the English attack line from the historic battle – the first significant conflict in the 1745 Jacobite Rising, where Prince Charlie’s army unexpectedly defeated government troops.

The trust’s executive trustee, Arran Johnston, said they were stunned when the initial plans for the site were unveiled given its status in Scotland’s history.

Mr Johnston, 28, said: “We were shocked when we first heard of the proposal to build a great big metal eyesore smack, bang in the middle of the battlefield.

“We have spent thousands of pounds refurbishing this site and making it more ­accessible without them coming in and building an enormous substation.”

He added: “They’ve said that this big rectangular eyesore could be between 11 and 18 metres high and straddles the middle of the battlefield.

“They invited us to consultation last week to discuss the plans and are quite insistent that a dialogue exists between us but we’re hoping that we can get them to change their minds before submitting their official planning application.

“The exact site they’re hoping to build on is also where we think many of the soldiers who died are buried so out of respect we would ask them to reconsider their plans.”

The application for the whole wind farm will be submitted to East Lothian Council by Repsol Nuevas Energías UK Limited and EDP Renewables UK Limited.

A spokeswoman for Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm said: “The proposed onshore site was identified following an assessment of a variety of potential landfall and substation locations in East Lothian.

“This assessment considered environmental, technical and economic factors and importantly the availability of land. The onshore substation would be located in a portion of the proposed site.”