Fury at plans to grow Brussels Sprouts on Prestonpans battle site

Battle of Prestonpans Re-enactments at Cuthill Park, Prestonpans.  Pic: Ian Rutherford
Battle of Prestonpans Re-enactments at Cuthill Park, Prestonpans. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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AS the final resting place for more than 300 fighters during the Jacobite Rebellion, historians hoped for a fitting memorial in an East Lothian field.

So they diligently drew up plans for the plot to be sewn with rye crops which were traditionally grown there during the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

READ MORE: Battle of Prestonpans site plan protest

But they have been left raging after councillors shunned their proposal at the 45-acre former Cockenzie Power Station site in favour of growing Brussels sprouts.

”Whilst we have been informed the successful farmer will crop Brussels Sprouts at greater financial gain to the council there was no need for that to be the sole criterion for the farmer to win the lease,” read a Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust statement.

“The council could have shown goodwill towards the work of the Trust since 2006 not least at the restored Bankton Doocot/memorials, re-enactments, schools programme and the new memorials tables, by accepting our tender.

“We shall now be seeking all relevant information on this decision by the council under FOI protocols.”

The land, which includes a field recognised by them as the burial site for soldiers from the historic battle, has been a site they have been keen to farm for a number of years.

They had also made a bid to buy the fields which fall under the battle site using the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015.

East Lothian Council bought the land last year and had offered it for farming between April and October for a minimum lease payment of £5,000.

However the trust offered just over £4,000 in their bid to take on the land arguing that one of the fields offered was not suitable for planting in the current year while another is well used as a local walkway and on top of the graves of soldiers.

The lease was handed to another farmer after the council said it had received eight bids for the land, which lies to the south of the former power station.

Now the trust has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council asking how they came to the decision and why their work in the community was not a consideration in the decision.

The council said it had a statutory decision to ensure the best return from its assets.

It also rejected the trust’s bid to purchase the land saying it had been advised against selling the site until “such time as the future of the whole site has been determined”.

The local authority lost a bid to stop Inch Cape Offshore Ltd building a substation on the former power station site to bring energy onshore after an intervention by Scottish Ministers.

Scottish Ministers gave Inch Cape the go ahead, whether they are being allowed to buy part of the site is unclear.

A council spokesperson said: “We acquired the former power station site to support ambitions for promoting economic growth and creating employment opportunities. We are working to understand the full potential of the site we own and in due course to maximise such opportunities.” newsen@edinburghnews.com