THE possibility of extending Edinburgh’s trams along the coast and into Musselburgh has been included in a consultation document examining the future development of East Lothian.

The South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESPlan) Main Issues Report suggests trams could be one of the solutions for improving transport across the county.

However, the multi-million-pound proposal has been dismissed by Musselburgh councillor Stuart Currie as ridiculous and was met with widespread cynicism at a meeting of East Lothian Council on Tuesday.

Mr Currie, leader of the SNP council opposition, said: “When I saw it included in the report I thought it was a wind-up.

“The last thing we need coming into East Lothian is the trams.

“What is concerning is that there are people who are serious about this and it is in a serious document.

“Of all the things that anyone would want to touch with a barge pole the trams is not one of them.” The infamous Edinburgh trams project ran over extensively both in time and money after a series of delays, and plans to run the trams from Edinburgh Airport through the Capital and down to Leith had to be scaled back as costs soared.

City of Edinburgh Council recently said it was looking at extending the tram lines, which end at York Place, in the city centre, to Newhaven, which would cost about £144m.

Graham Birse, a director of The Edinburgh Institute and member of Edinburgh Business Forum, believes that including the tram proposal in the SESPlan makes sense from a transport planning perspective.

He said: “In principle it is a good idea because it relieves congestion on the city bypass and A1 and it provides access to employment from East Lothian to Edinburgh.

“However, a feasability study would need to be carried out into it.” Lothian Transport, which operates Edinburgh’s trams, declined to comment on the proposal.

Musselburgh had trams for a brief period running from the town, three miles to Joppa.

Built by the National Electric Construction Company in 1904, the Musselburgh and District Electric Light Traction Company ran a passenger service on the line until it closed in 1928. Edinburgh Corporation Tramways took over the service as far as Levenhall after the closure but it was gradually replaced by motorised buses.

The SESPlan MIR document will go out to public consultation this summer.

As well as the trams, it suggests East Lothian will need a further 9,400 homes built in the county by the year 2029 – on top of the 10,000 homes already demanded by 2020.

While developers were only being asked to make 25 per cent of all houses built affordable, the demand for such properties was far higher, the meeting heard.

A breakdown of demand for housing in the county showed 60 per cent (6,170) of the 9,400 homes would need to be affordable, while only 25 per cent (2,200) were required for the private sales market.

The SESPlan report recommends giving local authorities more flexibility over the percentage of housing which they can demand are affordable, depending on demand.

And it revealed Edinburgh faced demand for nearly 60,000 new houses over the next 14 years with the possibility East Lothian might be asked to help cover any shortfall.

A number of councillors voiced frustration that the SESPlan was going out to public consultation before the council had finalised its own Local Development Plan, which was consulted on earlier this year.

Independent councillor Dave Berry said: “What we have here is a Trojan Horse. It carries a housing plan wrapped in what is purported to be a strategy plan.

“This is about housing and how can we inveigle more of it in East Lothian. It is so blatant what they are trying to do.” The SESPlan is drawn up by six local authorites working together: East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Fife.