Community bid to buy Cockenzie passes first hurdle

A protest against the proposed energy park at Cockenzie, complete with battle re-enactors. Picture: Neil Hanna

A protest against the proposed energy park at Cockenzie, complete with battle re-enactors. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A COMMUNITY bid to take over the site of the former Cockenzie power station is set to go before the Scottish Government after ten per cent of the local population backed the plans.

It’s been suggested the ambitious proposals could see the disused power station transformed into a “Tate Modern for Scotland”, complete with performance space, shops and even a swimming pool.

And plans for a new railway link taking visitors straight into the heart of Cockenzie and Port Seton have also been floated, alongside a play park and mini-golf course on the Greenhills parkland and a memorial garden at the site of the Battle of Prestonpans.

Earlier this year controversial proposals for a massive marine energy park on the site were abandoned following prolonged protest from the local community.

But in April it was revealed the area was being targeted by developers eager to construct Scotland’s first purpose-built cruise ship terminal on the mainland.

The group behind the proposed community buy-out, the Coastal Regeneration Alliance (CRA) – which was originally set up to fight the energy park plans – said its bid was an effort to “safeguard our open green space for future generations”.

Spokesman Carl Barber said efforts were currently being focused on securing the Greenhills and battlefield sites, with any further plans for the power station and railway line still years away from becoming a reality.

More than 1200 have signed a petition backing the buy-out so far, with initial plans now set to be submitted to the Scottish Government. Mr Barber said: “The CRA fought incredibly hard to defeat the vast and appalling and controversial energy park proposal.

“[The] proposal threatened to steam-roll over the area’s marine and coastal environment, as well as its culture and history, while practically ignoring as well as physically isolating its communities.

“Having taken on Scottish Enterprise, East Lothian Council, Scottish Power and the Scottish Parliament, the CRA achieved a total defeat of the proposal. But a big part of that process was the CRA taking the lead in the publication of its own alternative and community-grown vision for the vast area.

“Any development that comes in will have to now take into account what the community wants, rather than just steam-rolling in.”

If the buy-out is a success, the local community will be given an opportunity to purchase the land when it comes up for sale.

A spokesman for ScottishPower, who currently own the land, said: “We have met with the Coastal Regeneration Alliance and we are aware of their plans. Our focus continues to be on the dismantlement works. However, we will consider all options for the future of the site.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As we do with groups across the country, the Scottish Government has been providing guidance to the CRA ahead of a potential application.”