One of the Lothians’ most valuable wildlife havens is set to receive a boost under plans to restore a disused part of a former power station.
The final two ash lagoons at Levenhall Links have been unused since Scottish Power shut down the Cockenzie facility in 2013.
Most of the 120-hectare space has already been taken over by East Lothian Council and become popular with birdwatchers and other wildlife lovers. And now the energy giant is seeking permission to overhaul the remaining land – which has been designated as a Special Site of Scientific Interest and forms part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area.
The lagoons were previously used to store the residue of ash produced by the power station, which was transported through pipes.
Doreen Main, secretary for the Lothian branch of the Scottish Ornithologists Club, is excited by the plans and believes they will breathe a new lease of life into the area.
“The range of wildlife here is fantastic,” she said.
“The area is already a wonderful place for wildlife spotters of all kinds to come and appreciate what’s on offer.
“Birds in particular flourish here, especially waders, things like oystercatchers and sandpipers but the restoration project will surely attract more and in greater numbers.
“It’s part of a total rejuvenation of the whole area; I think it will definitely attract birdwatchers from all over the country.
“The RSPB brought their Big Nature show here in May and the reaction from residents was great, everyone was out enjoying the space. You see regularly there are people there exercising, riding bikes, walking their dogs, it is a well-used space and it’s only going to get better if these proposals go through.”
In addition to birdlife, hare, weasel and brown and grey seal have also been spotted in the area, on the sea-facing side of Musselburgh racecourse.
Concerns had previously been raised over diminished air quality caused by dust given off from the earth-moving works.
However, Scottish Power have reassured residents that dust suppression techniques will be employed to prevent damage to the air.
Particular attention will also be paid to the area’s Ramsar rating – an international treaty governing the conservation of wetlands – with the promise that current biodiversity standards are maintained throughout the project.
The public consultation on the plans takes place at Brunton Hall on August 25.
The last remaining section of Cockenzie Power Station was demolished by controlled explosions just before Christmas last year.
The boiler house was reduced to rubble in dramatic fashion, marking the end of an era for one of the Lothians’ best-known landmarks.
Hundreds of residents gathered to watch the momentous occasion, which followed the destruction of the station’s two 500ft tall chimneys three months earlier.