THE owners of Belhaven Brewery have stressed their commitment to keeping Dunbar as the brewery’s home ahead of an historic milestone.

Belhaven Brewery was established in 1719 and will celebrate 300 years this year.

However, concerns about its owners’ commitment to East Lothian were highlighted following the closure of the distribution centre on the town’s Spott Road late last year.

The county’s MP Martin Whitfield was recently given a tour of the brewery on Brewery Lane and described it as “an important local employer”.

That was backed by local councillor Paul McLennan, who also called for Greene King, Belhaven Brewery’s owner, to reiterate its plans for the future.

Mr Whitfield said: “Belhaven is one of the most iconic of Scottish brands and known around the world.

“As well as being Scotland’s oldest working brewery, it is also an important local employer and visitor attraction, and I was pleased to visit and hear more about its ambitious future plans.

“One of the things that has helped Belhaven continue to flourish in a competitive market is its constant innovation, developing new beers for different markets at home and abroad.

“Its future development plans will help it take this innovation to another level, as well as make the brewery more attractive to tourists.

“I was also pleased to offer my assistance with the plans for celebrating the brewery’s 300th anniversary in 2019.

“This is a major milestone and deserves to be acknowledged as widely as possible.

“I will be liaising with the brewery about the anniversary with a view to helping mark it at Parliament.”

Mr Whitfield’s visit came soon after the brewery closed the doors at its distribution centre on Dunbar’s Spott Road for the last time late last year.

All of Belhaven’s Scottish distribution now operates through K+N’s Scottish network.

All employees affected were offered the opportunity to transfer roles into K+N, which has a facility near Bathgate.

Ward councillor Mr McLennan added: “Belhaven Brewery is unique and has been there for nearly 300 years.

“I would agree it is an important local employer but I do have major concerns.

“What are Greene King’s long-term intentions?

“I think it would be quite a blow for the town if they moved.”

A spokeswoman for Belhaven Brewery said: “We remain fully committed to Dunbar as the home of Belhaven Brewery and will be investing in a new visitor centre in 2019 which we hope will attract further tourism to the town.

“The oldest brewery in Scotland, Belhaven will be celebrating its 300th birthday in 2019 and will be hosting a series of events marking the milestone which will take place at the brewery during the course of the year.”

Greene King declined to disclose how many people were now employed by the brewery in East Lothian.