Nicola Sturgeon will fly back from China to face calls for a ministerial statement on her government’s decision to “call in” a planning application relating to a Chinese-backed wind farm.
The demand for an “urgent” statement at Holyrood was made by Labour after it emerged the Scottish Government had taken control of a planning application associated with the Chinese state-owned State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC).
The decision was taken the day before the First Minister met with the SDIC on her trade mission to China.
The government’s action means it will now have the final say on the planning application for the site of the old Cockenzie power station rather than East Lothian council.
The Scottish Government has insisted there is no link between Ms Sturgeon’s meeting with the state-owned State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC) and the planning decision.
But opposition parties have accused Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP of caring more about the interests of a Chinese company than local communities.
SDIC’s subsidiary Red Rock Power Limited is the owner of Inch Cape Offshore Limited, which is behind the Scottish application.
The firm plans to build 72 turbines up to 300 metres tall around 15 km off the Angus coastline. Electricity from the turbines would be sent to the National Grid via a substation at the East Lothian site.
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities, 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.”