SNP fury as housing plan is approved

Cllr Stuart Currie opposes the housing plans. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Cllr Stuart Currie opposes the housing plans. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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CONTROVERSIAL blueprints for major housing developments in East Lothian have been pushed through despite widespread opposition.

East Lothian Council’s Labour-Tory coalition approved the local development plan (LDP) for the county at a meeting at Musselburgh’s Brunton Hall yesterday –despite SNP councillors staging a dramatic walk-out and pledging to have nothing to do with the scheme.

It is understood the plan – which will see East Lothian Council identify where 10,000 homes should be built over the next decade – will involve a concentration of new homes around Musselburgh.

But opposition politicians argue that the proposals seek “to impose a strategy that will harm communities, provide no answer to the affordable housing crisis and see the dismantling of the green belt”.

Concerns have also been raised over plans to earmark land for potential open cast mining, underground coal gasification and fracking.

Councillor Stuart Currie, East Lothian’s SNP group leader, said the party’s request for an alternative strategy was rejected – with “crucial facts on infrastructure” also unavailable at the time of going to vote.

He said: “This strategy will turn the west of our county into a suburb of Edinburgh. SNP councillors want a plan that will protect the green belt and not reduce it to whatever is left after the Tarmac goes down, and we want a plan for East Lothian that protects and enhances the very reasons why it is a great place to live, work and grow up in.

“We will seek a mandate from the people of East Lothian to oppose this local plan and put in place a strategy that will help and enhance all parts of our county.”

East Lothian SNP MP George Kerevan is currently seeking legal advice on whether the party can press for a judicial review to reverse the council decision.

Jason Rose, a Musselburgh Greens campaigner, said: “Although the outrageous proposal for 1000 houses on greenbelt land at Goshen was removed, we’re still looking at concreting over the few remaining fields surrounding Musselburgh.

“Extra development will increase traffic flow and emissions. Musselburgh is already horrendously congested and polluted.”

Council leader Willie Innes could not be reached at time of going to press.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com