Cockenzie marine energy bid axed

The Cockenzie power station site. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The Cockenzie power station site. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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The decision to abandon plans for a massive marine energy park on the site of Cockenzie’s former power station has been welcomed by residents.

Scottish Enterprise said the time was not right to build a huge offshore wind turbine factory and deep water port, which would have involved reclaiming over 11 hectares of land from the sea.

There had been strong local opposition to the energy park from those who feared it would mean increased traffic on nearby roads and damage to the environment as well as encroaching on the historic battlefield at Prestonpans and ­disturbing underground coal seams which could “turn the beaches of East Lothian black”.

Robert Bryson, former chairman of the Cockenzie and Port Seton community council, said: “I’m on a high. Everyone I’ve spoken to is over the moon.”

And Carl Barber, spokesman for the Coastal Regeneration Alliance – set up to challenge the plans – said: “The second Battle of Prestonpans has been won.”

He said he had no doubt it was local opposition which forced the scrapping of the energy park and added people were “ecstatic” at the decision.

David Leven, head of energy infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Since we started exploring the potential development at Cockenzie, detail around the scale, timing and location of offshore wind projects has changed and become clearer. As a result we believe that the time isn’t right to develop a marine energy park at Cockenzie, and that 
industry requirements could be met through other Scottish sites.

“In addition, major inward investment projects require the strong support and backing of the local community in order to be successful.”

He said they had considered obtaining consent but deferring any investment in the site until the offshore wind market was ready, but did not want to prevent other proposals being brought forward.

But he added: “We continue to believe that the site has potential to stimulate job creation. That is why we are keen to work with East Lothian Council, the site owner and all stakeholders to explore alternative uses for the site that support sustainable economic growth at the local and national level.”

East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray said: “The local community in Cockenzie will be delighted by this news. This was always a misguided project, of a scale completely unacceptable to local residents.

“It is very welcome, then, that common sense has prevailed and the proposal withdrawn. We have to find a use for this site which replaces the jobs lost at the power station but also meets the aspirations of local residents to protect their community.”

Jason Rose, Scottish Green candidate for East Lothian, said: “Scottish Enterprise and local and national government have handled the energy park idea badly and their retreat is welcome. It is crucial that we empower local people to put forward ideas for the site.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com