Calls for Scottish Ministers to release report findings on Cockenzie substation plans

PRESSURE is being piled on Scottish Ministers to release the findings of a report into controversial plans to build on a prime coastal site in the east of Scotland.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 1:36 pm
Updated Friday, 25th January 2019, 1:40 pm
Cockenzie Power Station

The Scottish Government called in a planning application to build a substation on the former Cockenzie Power Station in East Lothian last March after the land was bought by East Lothian Council.

Now Scottish Conservatives are demanding the findings of their own investigation are made public after they were sent to Ministers in private.

South of Scotland MSP Michelle Ballantyne said the decision, which came after months of public hearings and representation, “beggars belief”.

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Local ward councillor Lachlan Bruce said people were left wondering what the Scottish Government was doing “behind closed doors”.

The decision on the application, by Inch Cape Offshore Ltd who are owned by Chinese state-owned company Red Rock, was taken away from local authority planners as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was on an official visit to China, last March.

Inch Cape’s plans to bring energy from an offshore windfarm onto land at Cockenzie have been criticised by the local council and communities for potentially sterilising a large area of land which has the potential to bring over 3,000 jobs to the county.

The Scottish Government Reporter scrutinised hundreds of documents from all sides and oversaw a public hearing in Cockenzie late last year as she investigated the case.

Her findings have been passed to Scottish Ministers but are not being made public at this stage.

The Scottish Government said: “An independent planning reporter was appointed to consider this case, produce a report and make recommendations in order for the final decision to be taken by Scottish Ministers.

“The reporter has submitted her report and recommendations on the proposal and a decision will be made in due course.”

However the decision not to publish the Reporter’s finding has led to East Lothian MSP Iain Gray tabling a motion in Parliament demanding public answers.

Now the Scottish Conservatives have weighed in to add pressure to Ministers to make the findings public.

Mr Bruce said: “The Scottish Government denied the local authority’s right to make a decision on this application in the first place making the whole process unfair and open to proper local scrutiny.

“The fact that the report still hasn’t been released continues to shroud this whole saga in mystery and will leave many local people wondering what the Scottish Government is doing behind closed doors.”

And Ms Ballantyne MSP for South Scotland added: “It’s incumbent on the Scottish Government to be open and transparent over their decision making process.

“During the formation of the report, the public engaged heavily by taking part in public hearings and contributing towards the report.

“Local stakeholders deserve to know the outcome of the report and, quite frankly, it beggars belief that the Scottish Government have chosen to keep this secret.”

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