Cockenzie Power Station could be transformed into a huge renewable energy park constructing offshore wind turbines, according to plans being put out to tender by a government agency.
The proposed development would create a modern industrial landscape between Prestonpans and Port Seton, with giant turbines being manufactured 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Construction of a deep-water port for exporting the turbines could also lead to additional investment to the area, with a cruise ship terminal being proposed for the site.
The plans, which could bring thousands of jobs to the area, have been set out in a report by government agency Scottish Enterprise, with a consultation expected “in the coming weeks”.
If adopted, it would overtake a previous proposal from Scottish Power to turn the defunct coal-fired plant – powered down for the last time in March 2013 – into a modern gas-burning power station.
However, concerns are already being raised over the impact on the local landscape. The Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report admits that the impact on the local community, marine life, habitat and coastline would be significant, affecting the nearby Battle of Prestonpans historical site and requiring the new John Muir Way to be rerouted.
The physical impact of the site would be huge, with a massive new quay requiring up to 11.8 hectares of land to be reclaimed from the sea. Cranes as high as 156 metres would tower over the site and a 50-metre high lighting mast would provide 24-hour illumination. The plans would also require the B1348 Edinburgh Road to be moved.
East Lothian Council leader Willie Innes said: “It is still early days and we are committed to working with Scottish Enterprise to explore the potential of this strategically important national asset.
“The council has been working with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Power and other partners to secure the future use of Cockenzie. These proposals offer a potential opportunity for the long-term use of the site.”
Firms have been invited to contact Scottish Enterprise to express interest in the plans.
A spokesman for Scottish Power said: “The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework identified Cockenzie as a strategically important hub for the development of an energy hub, and we support Scottish Enterprise with their study.”
David Leven, head of energy infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: “We are currently looking at a number of options to fully unlock the economic development potential of the Cockenzie Power Station site. The report outlines an initial potential scheme which will now be looked at in more detail.”