A PLANNING case that sparked a row about Nicola Sturgeon kowtowing to China should be decided by the local community not ministers, petitioners have told the government.

Protesters handed a 1000-signature petition to planning minister Kevin Stewart after demonstrating outside Holyrood against plans for the former Cockenzie power plant.

SNP ministers last month ‘called in’ a proposed substation connecting a Chinese-backed windfarm to the national grid at the site, before East Lothian Council had considered it.

The highly unusual decision was justified on the grounds of “national importance”, but also came just days before Ms Sturgeon’s met the windfarm’s financiers on a trip to China.

Iian Gray, Labour MSP for East Lothian, said ministers were “riding roughshod” over local democracy, and the call-in should be reversed and the case returned to councillors.

He said local people were “very angry” about the call-in because the substation proposal would scupper advanced plans for the economic redevelopment of the site and cost jobs, and it was the latest in a string of examples of insensitive planning decisions in the county.

He said the national planning framework cited my Mr Stewart was “too crude” a standard by which to judge the nuances of the case, and said a revised location might be the answer.

The government has said there was no link "whatsoever" between the call-in and Ms Sturgeon's China visit.