AT 9PM last Monday evening, I stopped to admire the stunning sunset.

I watched from the turret in Prestonpans. It’s a small feature, but an important historic part of the story of our coastline.

Was the turret used to look out for salt smugglers, or simply to eye the weather conditions?

Perhaps it was a place from which to watch the boats on the firth as they fished.

For generations, Panners have sat on its small round seat, for different reasons but always, regardless of the weather, the view is spectacular, and a perfect place to view the sunsets.

The sun has set here over a thousand years of industry: coal mining, salt panning, soap works, brick making, pottery and brewing to mention just a few.

These industries have gone, but what remains is the history and sense of pride that the working class people along these shores were the drivers of the industrial age.

The closure of Cockenzie Power Station was, perhaps, the final act in that industrial history.

East Lothian Courier: What does the future hold for the former Cockenzie Power Station site? Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.What does the future hold for the former Cockenzie Power Station site? Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I lived under the shadow of the two chimneys when I was a child, and more recently they were visible from my children’s bedroom.

They weren’t pretty, they belched smoke, but they gave our area status and put us on the map, and crucially provided jobs. They were a part of our identity.

I know I wasn’t the only one who felt sad as I stood by the shore and watched the chimneys come down.

I remember the huge ghostly dust giant which appeared for a moment, as if the soul of the place was saying a final goodbye.

It was a spectacular sight, but I recall a silence amongst the crowd as the dust settled. There was a feeling that we’d witnessed the end of an era.

For many watching, there was no memory of the coastline without the towering presence of the twin chimneys.

I remember the September sunset of that day, the first without the chimneys. But I also remember thinking that while sunsets are an ending, they are also a beginning, because they herald a new dawn.

That was in 2015, eight years ago. There are some new developments already taking shape on the site of the power station, but the new dawn for the main part of the site is still to arrive. And there is a community vision of what that dawn could look like.

East Lothian Courier: Tim PorteusTim Porteus

It’s called the 360 Centre, a place where educational and learning opportunities in the renewable industries would combine with a stunning visitor attraction celebrating our beautiful coastline and our industrial history. It would be a place where the thread of the last thousand years would be woven into the future industries; an area which once had coal mines would be in the forefront of new green technologies.

It would once again bring our area status, put us firmly on the international map, and provide jobs. But it would also make our coastline what it should be: a high-quality spectacular place to visit and live by. We deserve that.

It sounds grand, and it is, but it’s possible too. It’s a vision put forward by members of the communities bordering the site who are determined to see this area used for the benefit of the people, as well as the environment, both locally and globally.

As I watched the gorgeous sunset last Monday, I wondered if this inspiring new dawn for our area will ever arrive.

We are on the cusp of decisions, but it’s not too late to get involved, and find out what the vision is.

The future of our children, our surroundings, and our coastline are in the hands of those who make the decisions.

I hope they are visionaries too, and if they are not, enough of us could help make them so.