Thousands sign Musselburgh Lagoons petition

Monday January 11th 2021

Musselbugh-Lagoons

Musselburgh Lagoons. Photo from East Lothian Consultations.


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding a wildlife haven be protected from plans to build a Formula 1 race track on it.

Anger over the proposal by a retired businessman for Musselburgh Lagoons has seen more than 6,000 people object.

However, in a war of words on social media, businessman Bob Jamieson has hit back, accusing those supporting the wildlife sanctuary of putting the welfare of “cannibal seagulls” ahead of the local economy.

Citing news reports from 2019 in which it was claimed seagulls were eating other birds, small creatures and each other as climate change affected their behaviour, he told protestors: “If East Lothian wants cannibal seagulls rather than new jobs, tourism and local economic benefits… that is your choice.”

The proposal for an international race track at the lagoons is being put forward by The Sunbeam Trust, set up by Mr Jamieson.

He called on East Lothian Council to consider his proposal instead of continuing with plans to turn the lagoons into a wildlife haven.

But his proposal has sparked a furious reaction, with thousands signing a petition demanding the lagoons be protected from “detrimental developments” in the wake of the plans.

The Scottish Greens also hit back at the plans as “hare-brained”.

Laura Moodie, Scottish Green Party candidate for South Scotland region, said: “This is a horrendous proposition and deserves to be opposed every step of the way.

“The developer’s claim that the lagoon’s wildlife is a ‘wasted opportunity’ is an insult to the hundreds of people who use the area for recreation every day.

“Rather than hear about hare-brained schemes like this, what we need to do is ensure that the proposals for the wider redevelopment of the Cockenzie Power Station area are sustainable and balance the creation of jobs with improving the natural environment of this beautiful coastline.”

The ash lagoons were created during the years of operation of Cockenzie Power Station.

Waste ash from the energy plant was transported via pipes to the lagoons, which are located on the seaward side of Musselburgh Racecourse.

A large part of the 120-hectare ash lagoons has already been reclaimed, grassed and transferred to East Lothian Council ownership, providing a habitat for wildlife, with the last two lagoons also earmarked for the haven.

However, Mr Jamieson has described the wildlife proposals as a “wasted opportunity” and is urging council bosses to look again at the trust’s race track proposal.

He said: “It is scandalous that this valuable site will not generate any local income from birdwatchers, butterflies and seagulls.”

He reacted to the petition, which has 6,330 signatures, by pointing to the impact seagulls – which he said would be attracted to the site by picnickers – would have on wildlife.

East Lothian Council stressed that no formal planning application for the race track had been submitted “as yet”.

A spokesperson said:

“Any formal planning application submitted to the council for consideration would, of course, be subject to the usual procedures, with members of the public having the opportunity to comment.

“No such planning application has yet been submitted to the council.”

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