A CENTURY ago, our county was Scotland in miniature – bustling industry of mines and wire works in the urban west; rolling countryside of rich farms and pretty resorts in the east.

The 47,487 residents worked locally, two-thirds living in towns.

Half a century later, it had grown to 67,258 – extensive council house building bringing the urban share to 75 per cent.

By the millennium, despite loss of mines, wire works and farm workers, we had grown to 90,088. Growth then accelerated and we grew to 105,000 by 2015.

Then East Lothian Council (ELC) came out with its 2018 Local Development Plan (LDP), which said the county “is forecast to grow by 23.3 per cent between 2012 and 2037” and “constraints mean the scope for further significant expansion of existing settlements is limited”.

Actually, both statements are glib, if not downright misleading. Consider the numbers for our six main towns and plug in the 10,000-plus new houses shown on the overview map on page 17 of the LDP, to be built by 2025, giving the last column of the table (above right).

Some of the 2025 increase is in villages unused to growth: Wallyford is doubling to 6,900; Blindwells will house 4,000; Gullane has reached its 23 per cent in as many months.

That 23 per cent county growth represents twice our already record rate last century.

Covid-19 will not slow this. House prices may waver in cities, but urban professionals have twigged they can telecommute from more pleasant environs than an Edinburgh tenement.

Growth is not, in itself, evil. It can fund improvements. But ELC has serious form in failing to achieve this. Bad enough the only infrastructure provided in 25 years has been schools legally required and sports facilities mismanaged by place-men.

Not one bypass or station; not one major employer lured or business complex built.

Worst of all, wilful ignorance of real town planning and what makes community was absent from the LDP’s 236 pages of flatulence.

While millions were wasted on failed Dunbar and Musselburgh town centre ‘regeneration’, developers have made a killing creating only commuterville housing.

We are becoming a Scottish ‘Home County’, like Surrey or Berkshire, where towns blot our countryside and people go elsewhere to work, shop or relax.