A recent ‘Peeps into the past from the Courier archives’ reported on the ambitious plans of local councillors to see a roll-on-roll-off ferry from East Lothian to the European mainland.

Back in 1996, it was the combined ‘wisdom’ of Scottish Enterprise and transport consultants that sank that idea on the grounds that “the market for such services is not sufficiently large to justify the investment”.

Fast forward 25 years and East Lothian Council (ELC) has another opportunity to create a modern port at the former power station site which could accommodate cruise ships, as well as a ferry link from Scotland to continental Europe. However, this time it is council officials and local councillors that are dithering on driving this initiative forward.

Since the power station ceased operating in 2013, Prestonpans Community Council has been campaigning for a cruise/ferry port created at Preston Links.

Our priority for the site, which at its peak employed over 500 people, are local jobs not just servicing the ships but all the ancillary local business that is generated from cruise and ferry ship passengers and crew.

Local shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, taxi and bus firms, hairdressers and barbers and local heritage tours would all benefit from people arriving at Preston Links on ships. The council’s much cherished ‘Scotland’s Home of Golf’ would see a huge influx of golfers from across the world and the East Lothian businesses that make up ‘Scotland’s food and drink county’ would have new markets for their produce both supplying the ships and a direct trading route to northern Europe.

Last year, East Lothian Council commissioned its own port engineering study and it reported that “a new port facility on the Forth with greater capabilities will generate additional growth that may be a valuable investment for East Lothian Council and partners”.

Turning that opportunity into a reality takes drive, commitment and leadership.

In an email to Prestonpans Community Council, ELC’s chief executive stated that the council’s recent engagement with the Scottish Government had been at the level of civil servants and “there has been no policy position (on a port at Preston Links) established with Scottish Ministers”.

Following the Scottish Parliament election on May 6, there will be a window of opportunity for East Lothian councillors to make cross-party representations directly to Scottish Ministers and they could invite the East Lothian MSP and MP to join them.

Or will this latest port initiative just end up being another Courier archive that can be reflected on in 25 years’ time?

Brian Weddell


Prestonpans Community Council