A rusting signpost stands by the crumbling wall which patrols the boundaries of the historic Drummohr Estate near Prestonpans. Wipe away the mud and you can still make out two fading words: ‘Green’ and ‘Belt’. Look a little closer and scratched into the metal between those words reads another: ‘Money’.

In a bygone age, this sign warned developers off the exploitation of farmland. It also marked the boundaries of Edinburgh’s expansion. In modern times, the Green Money Belt invites property speculators to fill their boots from the great schemeification of East Lothian.

The latest version of the Goshen Farm scheme, which lies within the estate, is moving closer to approval. The plans for another 300 houses bear all the worn hallmarks of the countless other local housing schemes: car only, no active travel corridors, poor integration with neighbouring communities, net zero local jobs and a dependency on unsustainable commuting. East Lothian parrots the language of a new green world but, when it comes down to shovels and spades, we don’t walk the talk, we drive instead.

All around Edinburgh, the green belt has morphed into a ‘rust belt’, where once-distinctive industrious communities now serve the city. Is it working? Not when 5,000 children in East Lothian live in poverty. Not when the roads are clogged with traffic. Not when the necessary rail upgrades are decades away. Not when the open space we all once took for granted is shrinking before our eyes.

The speculators, who make billions by reducing our quality of life, don’t live here. If they even bother to look in on the mess their greed helped create it will be remotely from the safety of their gated community.

With all the surrounding over-development, it might be tempting just to let the bulldozers rip through the rest of Drummohr. Or instead East Lothian Council could preserve the agricultural landscape and leave a new marker for the future: a permanent reminder of what was lost elsewhere and what remains worth defending.

Calum Miller

Community Councillor