Scottish Enterprise is being urged to back a call from the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust for plans to build a substation on the battle site to be changed.
Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, founding chairman of the trust and trustee, welcomed the Government body’s pledge it has not’abandoned’ the former Cockenzie Power Station site and surrounding area, following the scrapping of plans for an energy park there.
And he has called on the body to support the trust’s call for the substation to be relocated north of the historic site.
The call comes after Scottish Enterprise confirmed it was scrapping its plans to turn the former power station and surrounding land into a giant industrial park which would service the offshore windfarm industry.
The decision came after a grassroots campaign by locals against the proposal and has been hailed as a victory by many residents in the surrounding communities.
David Leven, head of energy infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, told the Courier the decision did not mean the agency was abandoning the site and it was ready to support East Lothian Council and the local community in developing the area.
The trust has been battling plans by Inch Cape Windfarms Ltd to build a substation on a corner of the battle site just south of the former power station’s coal stores.
The substation has been given outline planning permission by East Lothian Council; however, the trust believes it should be built on the former coal stores land, which is already classed as brownfield.
The announcement that Scottish Enterprise has no active interest in that land led to renewed calls from the trust for this site to be considered again.
However, Inch Cape has confirmed it is about to start investigation work on the land to check its suitability for the substation.
Landowner ScottishPower has stressed it is merely exploratory work and does not indicate it has reached an agreement with Inch Cape.
Inch Cape says it will have an archaeologist and ecologist on site during the work to protect both any historical finds and nesting birds.
Parent firm of Inch Cape, Repsol, said:’These works do not constitute commencement of development, rather are works required to determine site conditions. The works will begin in the coming weeks, with Wessex Archaeology onsite to undertake archaeological monitoring.’
Dr Prestoungrange said:’From the trust’s point of view we absolutely and immediately want Scottish Enterprise to insist that Inch Cape’s plan for a substation on the battle site be amended at once. If that initiative is to proceed, it should do so on the brownfield area to the north of the battlefield.’
Dr Prestoungrange said the trust was already moving forward with plans to boost the heritage around the site with some work, such as the interpretation of the battle grounds already well advanced.
The trust received financial support from Viridor earlier this year for a number of projects and believes focusing on the tourism aspect of the area is the key to economic success.
Dr Prestoungrange said:’There is most considerable scope for economic development via tourism and education initiatives, as our feasibility studies repeatedly show, and they will certainly create employment.
Plans to include interpretation of the Riggonhead Defile in Hargreaves’ welcome development of Blindwells’ new housing [which we wish to be known as Charlestoun] are also well advanced, as are the ambitious plans at Prestongrange Heritage Museum for a world-class pavilion and centre for the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry ,it’s already attracted more than 350,000 visitors in five years.
‘So whilst we are delighted that the monstrous energy park is off the table, it very much gives our community the imperative requirement to ensure that our alternative economic developments fill the vacuum now created ,all hopefully in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.
‘We’ll certainly be inviting David Leven to meet with us as soon as he can make it. We need as much help as we can muster and he should know he’s onto a winner here, just like Bonnie Prince Charlie.’
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