Musselburgh Lagoons threatened by race-track development


Plans to develop a Formula One circuit at Musselburgh Lagoons have been revealed.

The wildlife haven in Lothian has been earmarked as the site for the international-scale development, which would pose a serious threat to the area's biodiversity. The proposal has been put forward by The Sunbeam Trust, set up by retired businessman Bob Jamieson.

Musselburgh Lagoons is well-known for being a seaduck hot-spot, with multiple scoter species present offshore in some winters (Tom Tams).

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Jamieson says the trust is currently involved in a project to start producing hydrogen fuel in Scotland through one of its subsidiaries, Alba H2 Fuel, and it is hoped the track could eventually feature hydrogen cars which would create zero emissions and 'silent racing'. The proposal would see other sports facilities based at the site, including an ice rink, gym and speedway venue; however, the main focus would be the race track.

Draft layouts of the proposal, which has been sent to East Lothian Council by the trust, outlines a track based on the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia. Mr Jamieson said that the track proposals were first put before East Lothian Council with his plans two years ago but, at the time, he was told no plans could be brought forward until the lagoons had been restored.

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-ha 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 says the wildlife proposals are 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. The opportunity to generate income from millions of visitors to support local businesses and the local economy will be lost."