AN agreement on the future of the former Cockenzie power station site has been hailed as a boost for jobs chances in the area.
The company behind a controversial substation project has pledged to reduce the amount of land it needs and move it to one side of the site, away from the waterfront, leaving most of the land available for other development projects which it is hoped will bring new employment to East Lothian and give a boost to the local economy.
Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL), a subsidiary of Chinese-owned energy company Red Rock Power Limited has signed an option agreement to buy a small part of the site from East Lothian Council to build the substation which would connect a proposed wind farm off the Angus coast to the National Grid, making use of the existing grid connection at the former power station.
The Scottish Government gave permission for the project after intervening last year to call in the planning application, taking the decision out of the hands of the council and prompting complaints it was trampling over local democracy. Suggestions of any link with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s official visit to China where she met representatives of the country’s State Development and Investment Corporation, which owns Red Rock Power, were denied.
Monica Patterson, depute chief executive at East Lothian Council, said they had worked closely with Red Rock Power and the Inch Cape Offshore Limited project team.
She said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement which will enable a substantially smaller area of the western site to be purchased from the council.
“This means significant land will remain available for opportunities to boost the local economy and create employment opportunities. Having reached an agreement on land for the proposed onshore substation, we are progressing work to understand the full potential of the wider site in order to support growth of the local economy.”
Ideas floated for the site include a cruise liner terminal.
Guy Madgwick, CEO of Red Rock Power, said: “Reaching this agreement with East Lothian Council is a key milestone for the Inch Cape project and a significant step forward in our plans to deliver a project with such national economic importance as well as contributing significantly to Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”
East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray said: “I am still of the view that the Scottish Government should not have imposed this planning permission on the Cockenzie site. However, with permission for the substation granted by ministers, this is a good outcome, with the size of the construction significantly reduced and the actual site moved away from the waterfront. East Lothian Council have minimised the area they had to sell, and hopefully that means progress can now be made on finding the right opportunity to create jobs and boost the local economy.”