PLANS for a National Marine Centre in North Berwick have been criticised by the town’s community council.

The community council has said the plans, which would see the existing Scottish Seabird Centre transformed in a £5.5 million project, are “not sustainable”.

Members set out a number of reasons why they object to the application, criticising the “size and scale” of the proposed development.

A statement on the group’s website added: “The development will visually enclose an existing open area and its important sea views.”

It goes on to say the devleopment will have a “significant impact” on the harbour.

“It is difficult to see how this impact will be an enhancement,” it adds.

The community council has also raised concerns over the impact on the town during construction and long-term effects to the community.

Those include traffic management and parking concerns, and the “significantly harmful effect on the heritage assets on Anchor Green”.

The community council’s concerns follow objections from North Berwick Harbour Trust Association, which is concerned the proposals would “fundamentally and irrevocably alter the harbour”, and North Berwick Harbour Residents Association, which has highlighted “massive overdevelopment” of the harbour area.

However, the community council stressed it backed the idea of the National Marine Centre in principle.

It said: “It was with some sadness that NBCC arrived at our conclusions.

“We would like to stress that we wish to support the Seabird Centre in its work but that this particular proposal has raised too many concerns. As a community council we are tasked with commenting not only on planning specific issues but also to offer insight into community opinion.

“There is no doubt the application has its supporters but our experience is they are greatly outweighed by those who have concerns.”

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Seabird Centre, told the Courier: “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and the charity has won numerous major awards in this area.

“The community council’s feedback praises the architecture of the existing centre, as many do. Simpson & Brown, the architects for the original, award-winning building, have produced plans which are based on years of accumulated feedback.

“The most recent plans, updated following the local consultations, reinforce that the footprint is less than that of the pavilion which was previously on the site. They strongly believe that their plans will enhance the appearance of the existing buildings and address visitor feedback, which highlights the challenges of the current buildings, including access and lack of space.

“We are pleased the community council recognises the importance of our education role. Additional education space is vital to allow us to provide the facilities visiting schools need and expect.

“The aim is to provide the people of North Berwick and East Lothian with an important national centre that we can all be proud of and that will help to highlight and safeguard Scotland’s amazing marine wildlife for future generations.”