A public consultation is now underway on plans to ensure a major area of development in the county can become a national example of environmentally-friendly and inclusive development.
The consultation aligns with the Council’s National Development bid submitted last month. The area has been identified as a place-based response to East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy, approved by Cabinet on the 21st January 2020 and interacts with the existing communities of Tranent, Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton and Longniddry and Macmerry.
The public consultation will ask all interested parties for their views on all or part of the strategy, which focuses on:
- Access and Movement
- The Water Environment
- Culture, Heritage and Leisure
- Greenspace and Biodiversity
- Strong Communities, Regeneration and Enterprise
It is based around a study, drawn up in partnership with East Lothian Council, the Scottish Government, The Lothian Drainage Partnership, SEPA, Scottish Water and Scottish Natural Heritage, called ClimatEvolution Vision and Action Plan.
East Lothian Council spokesperson for Environment, Norman Hampshire, said: “The vision and action plan is not a finalised masterplan for the area, rather it is a high level document which sets out an ambitious vision for the area over the coming 30 years. This is a unique opportunity for anyone with an interest in the area to give us their views. We will look carefully at all consultation responses as we want to ensure we are putting forward the very best proposals for this key area of East Lothian – for the benefit of all its residents present and future and for the communities as a whole.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to ensure that one of the key areas of East Lothian, which is one of the fastest growing local authority areas in Scotland, is developed in an innovative way. We’re looking at how developments can be carbon neutral and bring forward major community benefits such as healthy walking and cycling links, an attractive natural environment, employment opportunities, innovative energy generation and first class leisure facilities.
“It’s not all about what’s new, though. We are looking at enhancing the existing local environment and making the most of the area’s unique history as well as its mining and agricultural heritage and the site of the Battle of Prestonpans.”
Potential projects for the area contained in the vision document include:
- New transport hubs linking rail, road, cycling and walking
- Facilities linked to the transport hubs detailing the history of the area including the Battle of Prestonpans, which may attract tourism
- Outdoor leisure facilities
- Climate resilient planting programme
- Use of underground water, including mine water, to create geothermal energy
East Lothian Council took the decision to go ahead with the consultation under its Emergency Recess procedures, which allow for council business to continue despite the Coronavirus crisis. While elements of public consultation, such as public meetings, will not be taking place – plans are being developed to make the consultation as inclusive as possible while doing things in a slightly different way to standard procedures, including putting more emphasis on online resources and more active engagement with community councils, Area Partnerships and other community groups.
It is uncertain for what period of time public gatherings will be restricted so the council took the view that it is important that consultations can go ahead during this time instead of being postponed indefinitely. There is also a finite timescale for the Scottish Government’s request for ideas for its National Planning Framework 4, which is likely to be looked at in early 2021. The council’s aim is to have the Climate Evolution Zone designated as a nationally-important development – so an amended report based on the consultation responses needs to be finalised before the end of 2020.
The consultation can be accessed on East Lothian Council’s consultation hub from Monday 1st June for eight weeks. Details of online events such as a webinar will be available soon.