Former Cockenzie power station and surrounding area

The former power station site was acquired by the council in 2018 to support ambitions to promote economic growth and create employment opportunities. The vision for the site was established through a community-based masterplanning project and the ambitions identified to bring employment investment and jobs to the area, as well as enhance the public areas along the waterfront, remain our vision for the site.

It is important to recognise that large brownfield former industrial sites of this type are very complex and take a long time to come forward. Work has been continuing to seek Scottish Government support for the regeneration of the site through the National Planning Framework and a bid was made to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to start the remediation process. There is still some way to go before the site can be developed, but twe are working in stages to find the best way to bring the site into beneficial use.

Significant technical work has been taking place to fully understand and plan for the necessary infrastructure and environmental, economic and sustainability work needed to support the site’s development.

National Planning Framework

The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4, adopted by the Scottish Government in February, identifies the Cockenzie site to generate employment and provide essential infrastructure for net zero. This gives more flexibility than the previous designation for thermal electricity generation and accords with the Council’s vision for future development at the site.

Levelling Up Fund award  

The UK Government Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH) announced on 18 January 2023 that East Lothian Council has been successful in its £11.3M bid to round 2 of its Levelling Up Fund. The basis of the bid is to undertake site preparation and remediation works at the Cockenzie site, to allow for future employment development. These works include:

  • removal of the earthwork bunds currently surrounding the coal store
  • using that bund material to re-grade and level the area where the power station stood
  • backfilling underground cooling water tunnels that were underneath the generating station to solidify the ground for construction
  • re-grading other parts of the site to increase the area for beneficial development
  • repair of the sea wall
  • improvement works to the John Muir Way through the site

Since mid-January, we have been working with the UK Government to finalise details of the funding award. The aim is to submit planning applications in late 2023 for these Levelling Up Fund works so, once necessary consents are in place, they can be completed in 2025.

The next step in the project will be to work-up technical proposals for how the site may be accessed and serviced post Levelling Up Fund works, to then attract employers and create new jobs. The local community will be engaged in discussion on these technical proposals as they emerge, the programme for which can be considered once appropriate consultants are appointed, in due course.

In the interim we are making our Levelling Up application form publicly available - with minor redactions due to commercial sensitivity .

Levelling Up Fund application

Reports to June 2022 Council and the August 2022 Members Library on the Levelling Up Fund Bid are also available. A further update will be brought to Council later this year.

Energy developments

In 2019, Scottish Ministers granted planning permission in principle for an onshore substation, electricity cables and associated infrastructure to Inch Cape Offshore Ltd on part of the site. Detailed planning permission for that project has now be granted and works will commence in Spring 2023 with a late 2025 completion.

In August 2021, the Council's Planning Committee unanimously approved outline planning permission for Seagreen to construct an electricity substation on another part of the site, taking power from an offshore windfarm and feeding it into the National Grid, with associated underground cabling. Progression on this project will be informed by future decisions, including on availability of UK Government funding in 2023.

Access road proposal

The Council’s proposal for formation of a new access road through the site has now got planning permission, and its delivery will be considered in the wider context of the physical and technical works on the site as set out above.

Ultimately the proposed road would link the Alder Road junction on the B6371 approach to Cockenzie with the existing B1348 road. Much of the route would follow an existing service road to the former coal plant and be complemented by a lane, largely set back from the main roadway, to encourage safe walking and cycling.

Read more about the proposed road

Community proposals

Local communities have already provided valuable input into an initial master-plan for how the site might be taken forward.  There is a need to refine this and set a vision for necessary works to prepare the site for development.

There are two community-led proposals, both of which have had the benefit of feasibility work funded by the council. Further consideration will be given to these proposals by the Council in the future and will be discussed in the update to Council later in the year.

Next steps

It was agreed by Council in June 2022 that a master-planner be appointed to consider the development potential of the site and identify constraints and the way that the core infrastructure, such as the road network can be laid out to divide the site into development land parcels. Now we have the outcome of the Levelling Up bid, the procurement of the master-planner will be taken forward in the near future. The outcome will be a technical masterplan and this will not determine land uses or conflict with the overall vision for the site.

Technical work will continue to assess development potential as part of the wider Blindwells and a potential Climate Evolution Zone, looking at flood risk and mitigation.

Liaison will continue with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and Scottish Development International regarding the potential marketplace for UK-wide or international investments.

Going forward, as agreed by Council in June 2022,  advisors will be appointed to develop a marketing strategy and market the site UK-wide and internationally, at the appropriate time.

These actions will contribute to development of the vision and continue progress the site towards development.

Page updated 17 March 2023