Letter of the week: Concern over participation in re-industrialisation

Letter of the week: Concern over participation in re-industrialisation

While headlines across Edinburgh and Fife herald the arrival of a new freeport on the Forth, here the newspapers are silent – 50,000 jobs are promised by the project in the “communities that need them most”. . . except, of course, in East Lothian.

The consortium that delivered the winning bid was composed of Forth Ports, Babcock, INEOS, Edinburgh Airport, Scarborough Muir Group, Falkirk Council, Fife Council and City of Edinburgh Council.

Our sleepy wee council, with the second longest coastal boundary on the Forth, wasn’t even at the races.

The £6bn of investment promised will go elsewhere, with a net negative impact on the East Lothian economy. Exporting businesses are now incentivised to bypass our county and locate within the 550 hectares of the freeport straddling Grangemouth, Leith, Rosyth, Burntisland and Edinburgh Airport.

There is ample land both east and west of Prestonpans that could have participated in this re-industrialisation of the Central Belt.

The potential to host a new green port on the Cockenzie Power Station land, for example, is recognised by leading maritime experts.

The economic potential of that land is undermined by politicians showing zero ambition for the area.

Local councillors have gone native on the Chinese state transformer being constructed.

They are content just to pick the colour and lighting scheme of the giant shed to look involved.

The combined population of Prestonpans, Tranent, Wallyford, Cockenzie and Port Seton, and Musselburgh already exceeds that of Perth but has the collective political clout of the Bass Rock.

That’s why the area isn’t benefiting from a freeport and has failed to pull any of the £1.3bn City Deal funding further east than Queen Margaret University.

East Lothian currently has a jobs density half that of Edinburgh, resulting in unsustainable commuting flows. The current housebuilding rage must be balanced by local employment opportunities or further gridlock will ensue.

Local politicians need to aim beyond city dormitory status and provide the necessary leadership to get there.

If it’s not a new port at Prestonpans then what and when?

Calum Miller

Polwarth Terrace


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