Groups including Friends of the Earth Midlothian and Damhead Community Council are planning to protest this afternoon (December 16) ahead of council talks that are to be held in private.
The groups have concerns about proposed developments such as the A701 Relief Road and West Straiton retail park expansion, and are angry that the council is to discuss, and most likely rubberstamp, the Midlothian Local Development Plan - its policies, proposals and strategies for the future development and use of land - behind closed doors later today.
Ahead of the protest, Councillor Ian Baxter (Green) said: “Realignment of the A701 would be a disaster for Midlothian. It would encourage more car use, both within Midlothian and into Edinburgh. Suggestions that the existing route be prioritised for buses and cyclists is a sweetener for those who, like me, think the existing road should be prioritised for buses and cyclists.
“Also, the disused rail running parallel should be explored as an off-road cycle/walkway and re-opening of the Penicuik-Eskbank rail prioritised. Realignment is an excuse to remove a huge swathe of the Green Belt and develop it - totally inconsistent with the aim of Midlothian being ‘a place of vibrant self contained communities’.
“Straiton already has a number of units lying empty. We need to be absolutely sure there is demand before creating new ones.”
The protest is set for 1pm at Midlothian Council offices, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith