PLANS to decontaminate the site of a former gasworks which has lain disused for 25 years have been put on hold.

Owners of the site National Grid had lodged proposals with East Lothian Council’s planning department to carry out remediation work on the two-acre site in Musselburgh to prepare it for redevelopment.

However, they have withdrawn the application after they said “new information” came to light.

The application had revealed that the site had “sporadic asbestos fibres in made ground across the site” and “localised pockets of spent iron oxide (SIO) in the north east of the site”.

The applicants said they had constructive obligations to remove the SIO, as well as the contaminant light non-aqueous phase liquid and tar-impacted soil.

However, the asbestos in the soil was scheduled to be considered in a future phase of work.

The site itself, which lies on Balcarres Road,  was home to a gasworks until it closed in the earlier 1970s and the last of that structure was removed in 1993.

Since then, it has lain vacant, surrounded by a three-metre-high wall.

It is surrounded by Musselburgh Racecourse to its east, residential housing on two sides and an outdoor learning centre.

A report on the land said that remediation work was carried out in 1997 when 2,200 tonnes of contaminated material were removed from the site and replaced with “clean” imported stone fill material.

The planned work which had been due to go ahead would have brought the site to an acceptable condition for future built development. A further phase of work was planned to deal with the asbestos in the soil.

The application was withdrawn this week by the National Grid, which insisted it was still committed to bringing the land back into use.

A spokesperson said: “We’re planning to do some environmental improvement works at our Musselburgh site in East Lothian.

“New planning information has recently come to light.

“The existing planning permission has been withdrawn, but we remain committed to regenerating the site and will be submitting a new application shortly.”