A PLAN to “decontaminate” a former gasworks near Musselburgh Links has been resubmitted to East Lothian Council.

National Grid Property Holdings Ltd has once again applied for planning consent to carry out “site remediation” work on vacant, disused scrubland off Balcarres Road, near the racecourse and East Lothian Outdoor Learning Centre.

A previous planning application was withdrawn last year.

A company spokesperson said: “The application has been resubmitted following clarification that a portion of land along the access route to the site is held by East Lothian Council.”

A design statement submitted with the current plan said sporadic asbestos fibres across the site and localised pockets of spent iron dioxide were identified.

Fewer than 0.96 hectares, the former gasworks site is surrounded by three-metre sandstone walls and the main part is accessed by a lockable gate, with an unsecured area of public open space beyond.

It is understood that gas production started there in 1831 and two gasholders were located on the site. By 1894, the operation had expanded and two additional gasholders were installed. A detailed site plan from 1943 showed another 12-column gasholder in place.

Gas production ceased in 1971 and by 1993 the site had been cleared of all the above-ground gasworks structures.

In 1997, remediation works were undertaken; about 2,200 tonnes of contaminated material were taken off-site to licensed landfill facilities and replaced with ‘clean’ imported stone-filled material. Further remediation work was undertaken in 1999.

A planning statement said: “The proposed remediation scheme will be an important step in bringing the presently vacant, disused site into beneficial use. However, it is likely that further works will be required to address risks associated with asbestos in soil impacts.

“Further remediation and protective works may be required to facilitate a future built development but, at present, there are no specific plans pertaining to the site.”

The proposed work will involve the excavation, segregation and off-site disposal to landfill and/or an off-site treatment facility of the known remaining gasworks’ by-product contamination.

Spent iron oxide, localised Light Non-acqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPL), tar-impacted contents of small brick and concrete structure will be removed and replaced with uncontaminated material.

Localised free product (hydrocarbons) resting on top of the groundwater table will be removed off-site and existing vegetation will be cleared.

Vehicle access to enable the work to take place will extend from the timber fence on the site’s current southern boundary across the open green space and car park to connect with Balcarres Road.

Due to the surrounding road network, “careful management” will be required to secure a “safe and controlled approach” to waste removal.

A detailed traffic management plan will be prepared in due course to ensure that the limited duration of vehicle movements maintains appropriate access to the road network and parking for residents and businesses, and to minimise and address material being brought onto the public highway or right-of-way footpath.

Hannah White, land regeneration manager at National Grid Property, said: “We’ve submitted a planning application for environmental improvement work at the site.

“This is part of a UK-wide programme of improvement works, which we always carry out safely and with as little disruption as possible.

“If our application is approved, we hope to start work in the coming months and will be able to give people more details then.”