IT is building up to be the battle of the beach.
A huge protest has erupted over plans by East Lothian Council to more than double the size of the car park at North Berwick’s popular east beach - including extending the tarmac on to the beach by up to 30ft.
Residents say the plans will blight an unspoilt stretch of coastline and actually cut the beach in half during spring tides. They say the £350,000 development will ruin the sweeping panorama for which the area is famed.
The plans for the Marine Parade car park, which look set to be given the green light tomorrow, have sparked a petition which attracted more than 4000 signatures in under a week, and almost 80 written objections, including two from East Lothian MP George Kerevan.
Protesters say the scale of opposition has been so great that if the online and paper objections to the plans were added together they would total well over half the 6600 population of the town – though it is understood that not all of the opposition is local.
Objectors armed with placards also held a ‘Save Our Beach’ protest on Saturday ahead of Tuesday’s crunch meeting to discuss the plans.
They formed a human chain to illustrate the size and scale of the controversial project in a last-ditch attempt to get the scheme overturned.
Resident Clare Devereux, who started the petition, said: “I moved to North Berwick for its beauty, its beaches and its uniqueness.
“This is one of its assets and the reason why tourists and visitors come here.
“At the moment its unspoilt but this will ruin the beach.”
One objection simply read: “You shouldn’t Tarmac a beach – only an idiot would Tarmac a beach,” while another added: “Making a carbuncle bigger and bulkier doesn’t get rid of the problem.”
Michael Ellis was one of just two community councillors for North Berwick who voted against the proposals.
He said: “The car park there now is relatively low-profile.
“More than doubling its size means the car park is going to stick even further out.
“It will be at head height rather than waist height [for those walking on the beach below].
“And during a typical spring high tide, extending the car park would cut the beach in two and stop people being able to walk the length of the beach.”
A council spokeswoman said that the proposals would be discussed at tomorrow’s planning meeting but declined to comment on the objections themselves, adding: “Individuals and groups have been able to put forward their views on all aspects of the application.”
East Lothian Council has recommended that the proposals are approved.
It now accommodates 18 vehicles but the revised plans would include 33 car parking space.
The extended car park, which falls within the North Berwick Conservation Area, would also be shielded by a sea wall.