Historic Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, has compiled an inventory of nationally important battlefields
and Prestonpans is included in this inventory. Its purpose is to provide information on the sites in it in order to raise awareness of their significance, and to assist in their protection and management for the future.
Scottish Government policy relating to battlefields means that inclusion of an area in the Inventory does not act as a barrier to development. Rather the purpose of the designation is to try to ensure that change happens in a way that takes the battlefield landscape and its constituent elements into account sympathetically and avoids unnecessary damage.
Our role in the planning process in relation to battlefields
While we do not determine planning applications, whether relating to battlefields or not; we are a consultee where developments affect battlefields, as we were in the application concerning an electricity substation, near Prestonpans. Our role as a consultee on any planning application is solely restricted to commenting on Historic Environment matters. We consider any application on its own merits and in accordance with Scottish Government policy.
Development proposals at Prestonpans Battlefield, East Lothian
Inch Cape Offshore Ltd: Electricity Substation
The Inch Cape Offshore Ltd substation development lies within the inventory area at Prestonpans, which is why we were consulted. We concluded that the proposal to build the substation on the site would not have a significant impact on the battlefield landscape, particularly in light of the existing development in this part of the battlefield. We did accept that there may be an impact upon unknown archaeological remains. However, in granting consent, conditions will be put in place to ensure that archaeological investigations occur both prior to and during development phases. Such a programme of archaeological investigations would be agreed in advance by the Local Authority.
The reasons for our conclusion were as follows:
- The proposed development partially sits on land currently occupied by the Cockenzie branch railway line. The scale and location of the substation is such that we did not consider that development would significantly impact on any key views, landscape features or specific known events relating to the battle.
- Any archaeological finds or deposits associated with the battle are likely to have been substantially disturbed or destroyed when the existing railway and associated infrastructure was built. While there are limited areas of undisturbed ground, we are satisfied that the conditions that the East Lothian Council are likely to require would ensure that appropriate archaeological mitigation takes place.
East Lothian Council granted outline planning permission to the substation on 2nd September.
Scottish Enterprise: Cockenzie Energy Park
The proposal for an Energy Park at the former Cockenzie Power Station and surrounding area was announced by Scottish Enterprise earlier this year. While specific details have yet to be outlined, Scottish Enterprise have commenced an Environmental Impact Assessment and Historic Scotland (along with other agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) are a consultee as part of that process. This assessment will consider the likely environmental impacts arising from the proposal, including those upon the battlefield site at Prestonpans.
Historic Scotland provided advice on the scope of this assessment in June 2014, highlighting the importance of considering what impacts the proposed Energy Park may have upon the Prestonpans battlefield.
We understand that the planning application will be submitted in Spring 2015 and Historic Scotland, as a statutory consultee in relation to historic battlefields, will be asked for a view at that point. Our role will be to advise the decision makers on how the development and any impacts it may have relate to national policies for the protection of the historic environment. The decision making and consenting authorities in this case will be Transport Scotland (for the harbour creation), Marine Scotland (for works within the marine environment) and East Lothian Council (for onshore matters).
Further information about the proposal, including the likely timescales for bringing forward an planning application, can be found on Scottish Enterprise’s website.