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Let's have a proper conversation with Scottish Enterprise

260+ packed the PL Rugby & Prestongrange Bowls 'shared' Clubhouse on Tuesday August 5th ..

It was a large crowd of residents, all with their own and community concerns to air, that assembled at the PL Rugby and Prestongrange Bowls Clubhouse. Shona Brash and Andrew Crummy and myriad supporters from the Coastal Regeneration Group had put out the challenge:

"How can we get a proper discussion with Scottish Enterprise about its Scoping Study of the Cockenzie Power Station brownfield site".

As we all knew, an Energy Park had been proposed. It involved cutting off and re-routing both the coastal road and the John Muir Way, industrial structures and logistical impacts way beyond those arising from the Cockenzie Power Station, light pollution, interruption of our local fishing industry, infringement on the Prestonpans battlefield site and more. As a Scoping Study it left a very great deal to be desired. Indeed it seemed to be deliberately provocative!

Actually the community has already created a lot of energy for the past two decades and more ...

If it's energy that's under discussion the great majority knew their mind. They actually wanted the continuing incremental improvement of the coastal area from Musselburgh right across East Lothian to the east. Not an intrusive industrial development. As for the promise of 200 jobs, nobody believed that our community had the skills set needed for any of the substantive jobs likely to be on offer. And the fishermen reckoned they'd lose that number anyway.

So it was agreed that we must articulate what our own energetic vision for the future of our coastline was quite frankly. It would very much include the further development of the tourism and residential environment which has evolved in the post-industrial years since the 1960s.

In particular Prestongrange Heritage Museum, Cockenzie House and the Prestoungrange Gothenburg should all blossom, as should the arts community from the 3 Harbours and Boatie Blest to the Prestonpans Murals Trail bringing many more visitors to the coastline. John Muir's Way should certainly not be knocked back nor the Greenhills twixt The Pans and Cockenzie. The battlefield and the associated tapestry and re-enactments should be further conserved and interpreted. Prestonpans Town Hall should come back into significant community use and maybe a salt pan restored close by Aldhammer House and a saltwater swimming pool. The boat club's facilities should be enhanced.

The Tranent to Cockenzie historic Waggonway should be restored and interpreted. The local fishing industry should be supported and the harbours at Cockenzie and Port Seton developed. In fact there is much on offer and much to be done ...

Yet if the industrial land is to continue in use howsoever, what might be compatible and acceptable to the community at large?

It was at once realised that rather than de-listing the designated industrial land when the Power Station is demolished, further proposals such as Scottish Enterprise's Scoping for an Energy Park might well be on the cards. If so, what would the community find acceptable in the context of its preferred coastline strategy? What is starting to emerge from that question is a series of red lines and fundamental conditions for support.

First and foremost, John Muir and the coastal road must stay along with Greenhills. No developments should increase the scope of the present industrial site.

Second and equally resolute is the requirement that the battlefield itself is not infringed upon howsoever. And along with that the Waggonway should be properly recognised.

Thirdly, the community's fishing industry must be honoured and its continuation ensured.

Fourthly, any logistics, noise and lighting issues must be addressed and the visual impact must be acceptable and compatible.

Fifthly, talk of jobs must be completely understood. In order that our community can truly reap such benefits as are trailed apprenticeships for local youngsters must be ensured and requisite training for others.

Sixthly, the percentage for the arts and a trust fund for the community into the future must be deployed in line with the our preferred coastal option.

Media, social media and public meetings all designed to ensure that 'proper' discussion takes place ...

Both the East Lothian Courier and the East Lothian News have already given generous coverage and are pledged to stay the course with us. Radio Saltire and the social media at large will also be playing their role.

It's early days of course, but the mood of the meeting was that the community expects to be comprehensively respected and that any final proposals for an Energy Park hereabouts will very much bring benefits to the community rather than anything opposite!

Published Date: August 9th 2014

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