Prestonpans and East Lothian has an envious record of opening doors for young people into sport, music and education, but, in recent years, the door to local employment opportunities has largely been closed. For communities with such a proud industrial past, this situation is intolerable. Previous generations in East Lothian were kept in work by applying ingenuity to natural resources. Where the past led, the future must follow; it’s time to again realise the potential on our doorstep that is the cruise Port of Prestonpans

The coastal towns of Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton look out on the best natural berth for cruise ships on the Forth estuary. Nearly 140 of these mighty ships head for Orkney every year and 337 visit Copenhagen, with only 85 servicing the Scottish capital. Poor and limited facilities on the Forth means we are throwing money and local jobs to the wind.

The Port of Prestonpans will change the dynamics of the cruise market on the Forth, landing thousands of high-income tourists on our doorstep. Sure, local life will get busier and perhaps a little noisier at times, but remember that we owe the next generation the means to employment and to help them contribute to a better, fairer society.

Here are just some of the advantages;

  • Ready access to the road and rail;
  • 30 minute drive from central Edinburgh and 15 minutes by train;
  • If the trams ever reach East Lothian, there’s the potential to run them along the coast to the port;
  • Safe and rapid access to the open sea;
  • No tidal restrictions for all but the biggest ships;
  • River water taxis to Edinburgh and Fife, and river cruises to view the Forth Bridges.

All of this will allow direct access to local services and businesses, especially East Lothian’s tourist attractions such as; the Prestonpans Battle Site; the castles and many historic buildings within the county; and Scotland’s Golf Coast, including the oldest playing golf course in the world at Musselburgh Links. All this, and much more, will provide more financial investment and growth within the area, providing a well-needed influx in local employment opportunities.

In addition to this, with the maritime industry currently supporting 110,000 UK jobs and a contribution of £15 billion to the UK economy each year, we will certainly see an increase in jobs, with the UK government asking the industry to double its current number of apprenticeships.

At long last, East Lothian Council have taken the former power station site into public ownership, and the need to move quickly if they are to maximise the cruise and ferry potential of the site; the onus is now on the council to explore further the potential of a cruise/ferry pier at the site.

Sure, the place will get busier, but that is the price of success and that has to be better than counting the cost of failure. Turbulent economic times are upon us and they’re not departing anytime soon. The Port of Prestonpans won’t solve all our problems, but it will help shrink our areas of social deprivation and give future generations hope of a job in their own community.

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Technical details on Port Prestonpans by Dr. Alf Baird