£30k bill for Eden-style project feasibility study at Cockenzie

Plans to spend up to £30,000 investigating the feasibility of creating an Eden-style project at the former Cockenzie power station will go before East Lothian councillors this week.
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The 360 Centre project would see giant statues of women looking out to sea, which would be big enough for people to go inside and climb as viewing platforms – alongside a green education centre.

It is the latest community vision to be put forward for the site since its famous twin chimneys were demolished in 2015.

Boom...the giant towers at Cockenzie were brought down in 2015Boom...the giant towers at Cockenzie were brought down in 2015
Boom...the giant towers at Cockenzie were brought down in 2015
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However the council funding has been criticised by one community councillor as a waste of public money after he claimed no consultation had been held into the project in his community.

Former Prestonpans Community Council chair Brian Weddell said of the latest study: “This feasibility project is another example of ELC leading people up the garden path.

“It is action that’s needed on the council owned former power station site not another expensive and time wasting study.”

Serving Prestonpans commnunity councillor Calum Miller said the project, which has been supported by neighbouring Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council, should be put out for a public consultation.

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A report to councillors from officials said: “The proposal is for a climate change research and education centre and public space to the north east of the wider Cockenzie site.

“This community group, run by a core of enthusiastic and committed community activists has asked for funding to instruct an expert to advise on the feasibility of their proposals.

East Lothian Council bought the former Cockenzie Power Station and surrounding land from Scottish Power three and a half years ago and see it as an important economic site for the county.

However to date the only concrete proposals for the 230-acre site have been for two substation buildings to bring offshore energy onto land and into the National Grid.

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The latest study will be the third time the council has investigated potential plans for the site taking the total spent to more than £200,000.

In 2017 the council produced a £150,000 masterplan for the former power station site which it described as a “visionary document” for its future after public consultation.

Last year it produced a feasibility study into a proposed port or cruise terminal at a cost of around £25,000.

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The council has pointed to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) guidance as crucial to the future of the site, which is currently safeguarded for energy generation and carbon capture use.

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Until that safeguard is removed the council argues no decisions can be made on the future of the site.

And in its report to councillors this week it says funding will rely on the outcome of the latest NPF4 draft and whether it frees up the site or not.

It said: “The group estimates that a feasibility study will cost £30,000.

“It is requested that up to this sum is approved to fund the feasibility study with the provisos that it will not be awarded to the group unless sufficient flexibility for the site is granted through the draft of NPF4, a robust proposal is put forward by the group and alternative funding sources have been explored and will be used to help fund the study if available.”

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