The regeneration of the former Cockenzie Power Station site has received a significant boost with news that East Lothian Council’s bid for £11.3 million of UK Government’s Levelling Up funding has been successful.

The site was purchased by the council to support future economic growth and to create employment opportunities.

A submission was made to the Levelling Up Fund to secure funding in support of the site’s regeneration and making it developable.

Funding will be used to:

  • Remove the bunds from around the former coal store increasing the area that is developable and improving access
  • Use bund material to infill the hole where the former power station building was sited to create a level, developable platform
  • Infill the former underground power station cooling ducts
  • Repair the sea wall and make flood protection improvements
  • Make improvements to the John Muir Way along the promenade area of the site.

The council will be working up plans for this in due course and consulting and working with nearby communities.

Council Leader Norman Hampshire said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the council’s bid to secure funding from the Levelling Up Fund has been successful. The former Cockenzie Power Station site has significant potential in terms of helping to boost the local economy, creating high-quality employment opportunities and delivering sustainable growth.

“We’re determined to ensure the site benefits the local community and reflects community aspirations to provide jobs in the area. There is a lot of work to do in the months and years ahead but securing this funding is the next step towards progressing the site for future development. It is a very exciting prospect.”

Councillor John McMillan, Cabinet Spokesperson for Economic Development, added: “The successful Levelling Up Fund bid is excellent news for East Lothian. It is a further step forward on the way to achieving our ambitions for economic growth in the county.

“It is also testament to the vision of former Council Leader, the late Willie Innes, who believed the former Cockenzie Power Station site would have a key role to play in creating employment opportunities locally.”

More detail on the bid can be found in the report to Council in June 2022 and the Members' Library Report from August 2022

Further information

The former Cockenzie Power Station site was acquired by East Lothian Council in 2018 to support its ambitions for promoting economic growth in the local area and creating employment opportunities.

A significant amount of technical work has been taking place to fully understand and plan for the necessary infrastructure and environmental, economic and sustainability work that will be required for this key site to be delivered.

The previous National Planning Framework (NPF) 3 identified the site as of strategic national significance for thermal energy generation and carbon capture and storage. The draft NPF4, published in early 2022, identifies the site for economic development – giving more flexibility for future use. Finalisation of NPF4 will enable the council to move forward with plans.

Planning permission is in place for parts of the site to be used in support of 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. 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.

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, taking account of further community feedback and ideas, and set a vision for necessary works to prepare the site for development.

It is proposed that a master-planner be appointed to consider the development potential of the site generally and identify constraints and core infrastructure to divide the site into development parcels.

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. This will include further assessment of investment in a data centre, in response to a Scottish Futures Trust  study which identified Cockenzie as a potential site.

An agent will also be appointed to develop a marketing strategy and market the site UK-wide and internationally.

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

Published: Thursday, 19th January 2023