THERE has been a lot of talk about “power grabs” recently – generally resulting in more heat than light in the hot-house political atmosphere we live in.

But there is one real power grab we should all be concerned about, and that is the one currently taking place every day in our planning system.

Every year, hundreds of local planning decisions are appealed or called in to the Scottish Government and overturned in favour of big developers.

This means that David is losing out to Goliath all too often, with big developers winning out over community objectors and local planning policies.

This process means power is being taken away from local councillors and communities while undermining local democracy.

Last year, four in 10 council planning decisions which were appealed to the Scottish Government were overturned. This means that, in 267 cases, the views of local councils were pushed aside.

The picture is no different in East Lothian, where the decisions taken by your locally elected representatives – your councillors – were overturned in 43 per cent of appeals.

This is a real power grab – and does not even include the decision about the Red Rock application at the former Cockenzie Power Station site, where the Scottish Government stepped in even before our local councillors had an opportunity to engage.

Currently, developers are appealing East Lothian Council’s decision to reject plans for development at Goshen Farm outside of Musselburgh.

The council has repeatedly rejected development at this site for good reason and it would be a democratic outrage if the Scottish Government was to overturn these decisions.

This is why I and my colleagues have warmly welcomed the commitment from Douglas Ross MP, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, for legislation which would stop the Scottish Government overturning council decisions through the planning appeals process.

Under these plans, supported by myself and my colleagues on East Lothian Conservative Group, the Scottish Government would be forced to respect council decisions, and in doing so ensure that only projects which benefit communities get the green light.

This would help restore faith in the planning process and encourage more community engagement in that process.

At its heart, our plan will restore the balance of power in planning back to where it should be – with you and with our local communities – rather than overly powerful big developers.

It’s time to side with David and not Goliath in the future development of East Lothian.