Raffle prize to blow up Cockenzie smokestacks

The power station has been earmaked for demolition by its owner ScottishPower, but some want the stacks to be saved. Picture: Sean Bell
The power station has been earmaked for demolition by its owner ScottishPower, but some want the stacks to be saved. Picture: Sean Bell
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PRIZES at your average local community raffle normally don’t amount to anything grander than some bubble bath or a bottle of whisky.

But an explosive suggestion from members of Longniddry Rotary Club could see a prize with a punch passed to one lucky punter.

They have suggested a member of the public is selected by raffle to raze the smokestacks of iconic ­landmark Cockenzie power ­station, when it is demolished.

It would cost just £5 for the chance to destroy what was once a cornerstone of the ­Scottish economy. The funds raised would be split between charities chosen by the site owner, Scottish Power, and local community groups.

According to community council minutes, the raffle would be open to anyone from East Lothian eager to dynamite the local landmark.

The suggestion is the latest twist in the ongoing debate over the future of the Cockenzie site. The power station has been slated for demolition, with parts of the main power station building already reduced to rubble.

Scottish Power already has planning permission for a gas-fired power station. However, new proposals have surfaced in recent days from government agency Scottish Enterprise, who have published a report into plans for a massive offshore wind turbine factory.

Companies have been asked to declare their interest in operating the renewables hub, which would feature a huge deep-sea dock that could also accommodate cruise ships.

Community council member DJ Johnson-Smith said there was a “mixed” reaction to the proposal when it was raised at their latest meeting, and that opinion was also divided on the “Marmite” power station itself.

“There’s not a huge amount of affection for the building in the local community, it has to be said,” he said. “I see more fondness for the building in town, with people looking across from Portobello using it as a landmark.”

And Mr Johnson-Smith suggested one local resident who might be first in the queue to buy a raffle ticket. “I was speaking to the man who lives in the cottage next door, and he had no fondness for it at all.”

But not everyone is keen to take part. In a rerun of a recent argument which saw Commonwealth Game organisers perform a U-turn on plans to demolish Glasgow’s Red Road tower blocks as part of the opening ceremony, East Lothian Green campaigner Jason Rose said: “When the chimneys come down it’ll be an emotional moment, like saying goodbye to an old friend.

“As someone who grew up in the shadow of the Cockenzie chimneys I’ll have mixed feelings when they do come down. I won’t be bidding to push the button. I think reducing the end of an era to a raffle prize reveals a real lack of vision. It’s much more important the people who live in the area get to decide the future of the site.”

And University of Edinburgh lecturer in human geography Dr Fraser Macdonald, who has called for the smokestacks to be saved, said: “I don’t think it’s much of a prize to be associated with such a divisive demolition. The irreversible loss of the Cockenzie stacks will be much lamented across the Lothians.”

No date for the demolition of the smokestacks has been set. A spokesman for Scottish Power said the company welcomed suggestions from the community regarding the site’s future.