Plans to build offshore power substation at Cockenzie site facing delays

Plans to build a substation to bring offshore power onto land at the former Cockenzie Power Station site are facing delays.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:45 pm
Operators Inch Cape Offshore Limited are planning to seek an extension to the planning permission granted for the building which will bring in power from its windfarm off the Angus coast.
Operators Inch Cape Offshore Limited are planning to seek an extension to the planning permission granted for the building which will bring in power from its windfarm off the Angus coast.

Operators Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL) are planning to seek an extension to the planning permission granted for the building which will bring in power from its windfarm off the Angus coast.

The substation, which has been dubbed a “giant shed” by local community councillors, is the only project to be given the go ahead on the 24-hectare site, which was bought by East Lothian Council in 2018.

The local authority took ownership of the site and surrounding land from ScottishPower after producing its Cockenzie Masterplan – a visionary document outlining community hopes and economic opportunities for it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However to date only ICOL have gained planing approval for a project on the site and it was granted by Scottish Ministers who controversially called in the application from the council.

Among projects under consideration for the site or being looked into are a port terminal and green energy plants.

ICOL says the impact of Covid-19 means that it will need more time to come up with detailed designs and meet conditions included in the planning permission in principle granted by East Lothian Council two yeas ago.

The permission runs out in February and the firm has notified the local authority of its intention to hold public consultations as it prepares to apply for an extension.

Nikki Keddie, Stakeholder Manager at Inch Cape Offshore Limited, said: “The project has planning permission in principle for the onshore substation and related works which was granted in 2019.

“However this permission expires in 2022 and due to the impact of COVID-19 we are now intending to apply for more time to finalise the design of the substation and to submit the information required in the conditions attached to the consent.

“We will be running online consultation events in August to gather local views on this and all are welcome to attend and participate.”

Brian Weddell, chairman of Prestonpans Community Council, said a delay to the substation was less concerning than delays to progress bringing jobs to the community through the site.

He said: “Prestonpans Community Council have been kept in the loop by Inchcape in relation to their plans to build a sub-station at Cockenzie.

“Of greater concern to us is the lack of progress to deliver jobs and apprenticeships.

“East Lothian Council’s Cockenzie Masterplan, produced four years ago, was hailed as a visionary document for the future of the former power station site. The press release issued to accompany the final report commended it as a £66million vision for 3,300 jobs.”

“Prestonpans Community Council still hold out hope that East Lothian Council will fully explore a cruise/ferry port at Cockenzie as outlined in it’s Optioneering Study published last year, as we believe that offers the best opportunity for significant economic development and job creation opportunities on the former power station site”.

Inch Cape plans to run a virtual public exhibition on its website www.inchcapewind.com from Aug 9 to 31.

There will also be live, interactive sessions to allow interested residents and organisations to put over their questions or ask for further information between 1400-1600hrs and 1800-2000hrs on both August 12 and 19.

It is stressed the consultation is on the proposal to extend the deadline. Full details are due to be advertised locally at the end of this month.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions.