RULING Labour councillors in East Lothian are exploring renewable energy projects which they believe could raise up to �3 million per year for the public purse.

Proposals by the Labour Group on East Lothian Council could see wind turbines erected and energy sold to the National Grid which members say would help prevent cuts to vital services.

But the opposition SNP Group claims the council's Labour leader and Tory depute leader are "at loggerheads" on policy and accused Labour of "policy making on the hoof".

Councillor Willie Innes (Lab), council leader, told the Courier: "In the last four budgets we've maintained that because of the council tax freeze, we need to identify additional income streams in order to protect services, because if you can't increase your income, and your costs go up, it means that you have to cut services." Three revenue streams have been identified: coastal car parking charges, renewable energy projects, and the building of homes for sale in partnership with housing firms.

Mr Innes has not discussed the renewable energy proposals in detail with Tory depute council leader Michael Veitch, who has previously voiced his opposition to more turbines on the county landscape.

But he said councillors on all parties had "different levels" of concern over turbines and added: "There are a lot of variables but we believe that we could raise between �2 million-�3 million per year.

"We would look at [any form of renewable energy] but the technology that's most advanced is in wind turbines.

"If the council is submitting an application on its own, we couldn't determine the application - that would have to be for [Scottish] ministers to determine.

"I would imagine it would take about a year to 18 months to progress this." A site between Torness and Lafarge, in Mr Veitch's ward, is one of several being considered.

Mr McLennan claimed the wind turbine proposals had been announced at a parent council meeting in Prestonpans, following questions from parents on funding for education.

He did not rule out his party supporting the plans but added: "I am astounded that Councillor Innes would announce such proposals at a parent council meeting in another ward.

"I am further amazed that he chooses to announce his proposals for an area that is already heavily industrialised and would not be permitted under the council's lowland wind farm guidance.

"Labour planning convenor and ward member Norman Hampshire should surely be aware of the wind farm guidance and local sensitivities.

"But perhaps what is more surprising is the fact that it's in the area of his Conservative depute leader Michael Veitch who is campaigning for a presumption against all wind turbines.

"Yet again we have the two most senior politicians in the council at loggerheads on policy following their coastal car parking charges disagreement."