THE decision by Kevin Stewart MSP, SNP planning minister, to allow a large substation on the site of the former power station at Cockenzie gets so many things wrong that it is hard to know where to start. It is typical of the Scottish Government’s high-handed, ‘we know better’ approach to local communities.

This critical decision should have been taken by our local councillors, who fully understand just how important the site is to the economic prospects of the area. They also know how hard East Lothian Council worked to get ownership of the site so that those local interests could drive any development there. What’s more, local councillors understand the range of views of local residents and know that they will have to answer to them at the next election.

None of that mattered to Mr Stewart in his ministerial ivory tower, calling in the decision because he thought it was too important for those local councillors to make it. His ‘reporter’ recommended permission and he happily rubber-stamped that. All of this because the Government believes that the “national” interest of more windfarms always overrides the interests of the people of East Lothian, even when that means approving a proposal which will provide no employment and which now jeopardises other ideas which could create thousands of jobs.

I have had to listen to SNP ministers claim that they are “empowering” councils with the daft idea of taxing people for driving to work, knowing that Mr Stewart is riding roughshod over our local interests.

The council must now try to negotiate with the company involved to reduce and move the footprint of the substation to minimise damage to the economic development value of the site – hard enough negotiating with a company whose ultimate interests lie in China without our own Scottish minister dealing them all the best cards too.

Yet again we have been badly let down by the SNP Government in Edinburgh.