At last, I thought, the council wants to be clear with the community about its role in the Cockenzie Energy Park project (‘Council slams lack of clarity over Cockenzie Energy Park’, Courier). My joy was short-lived.

East Lothian Council says that it wants all parties to make their intentions clear for the area around the power station so it can finalise the Local Development Plan. In fact, there should be no difficulty in doing this.

Firstly, the land currently occupied by the power station is safeguarded for thermal power generation in the National Planning Framework 3 (as it was in NPF2). This safeguarding was supported by ELC in its infamous submission in July 2013 and cannot be changed except by the next iteration of NPF in perhaps three to five years’ time. At that time, ELC could suggest that the safeguarding is no longer needed, but it is very unlikely to succeed.

In the meantime, ScottishPower has an existing planning approval for the site which has another year or so to run but, since ScottishPower is currently engaged in political manoeuvring over transmission charges – effectively, SP wants a subsidy – it is unlikely to engage meaningfully with ELC at this stage. Secondly, the remaining land adjoining the power station is broadly classed as recreational.

Section 5.5 of the LDP MIR states that: “SDP [Strategic Development Plan for Edinburgh and South East Scotland] requires existing land allocations set out in the current local plan to be retained: new development brought forward by the LDP must complement and not undermine these. SDP is also clear that where a plan is under review this should not be undermined by premature proposals.” In other words, since no current planning application exists for this land, the current classification must not be changed simply because an application is anticipated.

The conclusion is clear. ELC should have no difficulty in finalising this part of the LDP, one area being safeguarded by the NPF and the other not being subject to a current application. Since no change can be made to the LDP for this area, there is nothing to be gained by drawing up a master plan. I cannot understand why our council officers are not already aware of these facts.

The council’s press release amounts to nothing more than an attempt to blame others for the difficulty in which they now find themselves.

David Chapman Prestonpans