Labour pile pressure on Sturgeon decision to call in Chinese corporation’s bid to build wind farm electricity sub-station at former Cockenzie power station

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse (right) formally open the Chinese power company's office in Edinburgh.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse (right) formally opened the Chinese power company’s office in Edinburgh in 2016.

The Labour in Scotland will this week demand an urgent parliamentary statement in Holyrood on the SNP government’s controversial decision to ‘call in’ a planning application from a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned company to build a large wind farm substation on the site of the old Cockenzie power station in East Lothian. 

This move follows revelations that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with the State Development Investment Corporation, the parent company of Inch Cape Offshore Limited, the firm which lodged the application, during her trip to China last week.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon, said: “SNP ministers need to urgently explain this disgraceful move to block local people from taking part in a planning decision.

“This is just another power grab from a SNP government that treats local democracy with disdain.

“In the same week Nicola Sturgeon met the State Development Investment Corporation, a planning application by its subsidiary company was snatched out of the hands of East Lothian Council so that her Planning Minister could make the decision.

“Whether this is intentional or coincidental, it speaks volumes about a government that only wants power for itself – not for local people and is more interested in cosying up to Chinese investors than the rights of local communities.”

Inch Cape Offshore wants to construct a wind farm substation on the site of the former Cockenzie coal-fired power station in East Lothian.

The Scottish Government has taken the unusual step of calling in the planning application, saying it may be of “national importance”.

It will now be decided by SNP government ministers instead of local Labour councillors.

Opposition politicians have questioned the timing of the move, which came during the First Minister’s official visit to China this week. A government spokesman rejected any suggestion the two events were connected.

Inch Cape is owned by Red Rock Power, a subsidiary of China’s largest state-owned investment holding firm.

Sturgeon officially opened Red Rock’s Edinburgh headquarters two years ago and pledged to “work closely” with its owner, the Chinese State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC)

The First Minister met SDIC officials in China last week, but the power station was not discussed, the Scottish Government said.

The decision to call in the application was criticised by Labour-led East Lothian Council.

Acting council leader Norman Hampshire said: “It is disappointing that such a key decision has been taken out of the hands of the local authority – particularly as the council now owns the former Cockenzie Power Station site.” 

16 Apr 2018

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