A public consultation is 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 area includes Blindwells, the former Cockenzie Power Station site and parts of the surrounding area including existing towns and villages and has been identified as a place-based response to East Lothian Council’s Climate Change Strategy.
A visionary document, called ClimatEvolution Vision and Action Plan, is the basis of a public consultation which asks 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 has been drawn up in partnership with East Lothian Council, the Scottish Government, The Lothian Drainage Partnership, SEPA, Scottish Water and Scottish Natural Heritage.
The consultation is currently live on the council’s Consultation Hub and we have extended the deadline for responses for two months to take into account the challenges of a public consultation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Extra outreach work is planned by way of direct engagement with groups such as community councils, area partnerships, youth groups and the Cockenzie Forum, the Battlefield Trust and others. In addition, there is information available on the council’s website which goes into detail on the strategy and copies of the document can be purchased on request. We will also be carrying out engagement work in schools in the new term.
East Lothian Council spokesperson for Environment, Norman Hampshire, said: “The aim of engaging directly with community groups ensures that as many people as possible can access information which breaks down the visionary document and makes it as easy as possible to see what is being planned. It’s also an effective way of engaging at a time when we cannot hold public gatherings. Extending the response deadline is another step we have taken to be as inclusive as possible, and this includes outreach work with school pupils who will benefit most from this 30 year plan.
“The consultation is very much a two way engagement and there will be a chance for any interested parties to ask questions before they consider and submit their consultation responses. I would stress that this is a high level strategy for the next 30 years and nothing is set in stone so we really need people to submit their thoughts and ideas and we will take all of these into consideration.”
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
The council has also submitted a bid to have the ClimatEvolution area designated as a nationally-important development by the Scottish Government as part of its National Planning Framework 4 guidelines. The bid will be considered in due course by Scottish Ministers.
As part of this bid, the council has also requested that Scottish Ministers give consideration to the proposals set out within the Cockenzie Masterplan as well as potential for a cruise port at the site, suggestions which would need to be subject to further detailed technical appraisal and evaluation work before they could be progressed. Any decision on the future of the Cockenzie site will need to take account of Scottish Ministers’ views which are currently set out within National Planning Framework 3, or as they will be set out within a future National Planning Framework 4 which is expected to be published in draft form in September 2021. The final NPF4 is not due to be approved by Scottish Ministers until sometime in 2022. Until then, the council will continue to remain open to and explore a range of potential future uses for the Cockenzie site, with a focus on employment.
The consultation on the ClimatEvolution Vison and Action Plan began on Monday 1st June and responses must be received by Wednesday 30th September.
For those who cannot get online, requests to purchase a paper copy of the consultation document can be made by emailing [email protected] or by calling Andy Stewart on 01620 827827. Responses can be posted to: ClimatEvolution, Planning Service, East Lothian Council, John Muir House, Haddington EH41 3HA