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Inch Cape substation bid on part of historic Battle of Prestonpans site labelled ‘very real danger’

Residents are being urged to make their voices heard against the company behind Inch Cape offshore windfarm’s bid to renew planning permission for an electrical substation on part of the site of the Battle of Prestonpans.

A new public consultation will begin next month, as the company prepares to reapply for the right to build the controversial station.

Red Rock Ltd, described as a subsidiary of China’s largest state-owned investment company the State Development and Investment Corporation, has already held meetings with the Coastal Regeneration Alliance (CRA), which opposed plans to build on the land when they were first put forward two years ago.

However, they have refused to deviate from the current site for the building, despite concerns about the impact on the historic land.

East Lothian Council approved Inch Cape’s plans for the substation to be built south of Cockenzie Power Station’s former coal handling plant, on part of the former battle site, despite objections from the CRA, who said that the former ScottishPower-owned coal storage site next to it was a better alternative.

The substation would be used to bring electricity generated at a proposed Inch Cape windfarm off the Angus coast onto land and into the national grid.

The Courier reported how the council’s planning committee voted by 12 votes to three to give the go-ahead for the substation to be built in a north-west corner of the site, just beyond the plant’s boundary, in September 2014.

The substation building was described as about 46 metres long, 11 metres wide and 11 metres tall.

The CRA believe it should be built on the former coal handling plant site, which is already classed as brownfield land, instead of the greenfield battle site.

However, Inch Cape has rejected their call for an alternative site to be used.

Earlier this year, it looked as if the substation might not go ahead after the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds won an appeal against the offshore windfarm – proposed to be built 15km off the Angus coast – claiming it would harm seabirds.

Inch Cape owners Red Rock have now launched an appeal against the windfarm ruling and signalled their intention to renew planning approval for the substation by lodging a Proposal of Application Notice with the council.

They have written to Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton, and Tranent and Elphinstone Community Councils informing them of their intention and will hold a public exhibition in Prestonpans Community Centre on Thursday, January 19, between 3.30pm and 8pm.

A second public exhibition date is still to be confirmed.

The CRA called on local residents to make sure they were not “complacent”.

A spokesman said: “Coastal Regeneration Alliance have recently spoken to representatives of the company who now own the Inch Cape project, Red Rock Power Ltd.