Holyrood MPs to probe controversial (CREP) Cockenzie renewable Energy Park plan

Cockenzie power stationControversial plans to develop a multi-fuel energy park at Cockenzie, east Lothian, will be scrutinised by Holyrood MPs next month after objections were raised.

A local community group – the Coastal Regeneration Alliance – has lobbied councillors and members of parliament to abandon the proposed Cockenzie Energy Park, based around the existing coal-fired power station, to create a ‘dedicated energy hub to support the emerging renewables energy market’.

Scottish Enterprise is currently exploring options for the redevelopment of the former coal fired Cockenzie Power Station, which has consent (under S36 of the Electricity Act 1989) to generate electricity from gas.

The National Planning Framework V3 – the Scot-Government’s ‘to do’ wish list for major infrastructure projects – seeks to establish Scotland as a European hub for the offshore wind industry through the creation of a facility that can compete internationally in terms of scale, quality and location.

 In addition to the current activity, Scot-Enterprise believes that an opportunity exists to develop new quayside capability and associated development land to support the creation of a marine energy park.

The proposed Cockenzie Energy Park would also see a new marine infrastructure comprising construction of new quayside to support import/export of goods and deployment of components to offshore wind sites.

Some Scottish renewable industry lobbyists hope that Cockenzie may now become home to Wave Energy Scotland – the new quango announced by Scottish Energy Minister earlier this month after severe financial setbacks hit Pelamis and Aquamarine, two major wave power development companies based in Edinburgh.

Now MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee have asked Planning Minister Alex Neil, MSP, to explain why the Cockenzie project came to be included in the ‘to do’ list in the first place.

MSPs have also asked Scot-Enterprise, East Lothian Council and Scottish Power – which owns the Cockenzie power station (and which, incidentally also serves as the police and government nuclear emergency control ‘bunker’ in the event of a leak of radioactive materials from the Torness nuclear power site at nearby Dunbar) – to provide details of what consultations have been undertaken with the local community and if the views of the Coastel Regeneration Alliance can be included into any actual development.

The Alliance wrote with details of their objections to 12 East Lothian Councillors. But only four replied.

Holyrood’s Petition Committee expects to receive answers from the Scot-Govt, Scot-Enterprise and East Lothian Council by 16 January 2015.

When asked the same questions again by Scottish Energy News, there was still no reply from East Lothian Council or Scottish Power.

A spokesman for Scot-Enterprise said: “We are considering some very early stage proposals to develop an Energy Park to support the offshore wind sector, at the site of the former Cockenzie Power Station.

“As part of this we are currently assessing the market opportunity for this development and carrying out feasibility studies.

“In addition, together with our partners, we are committed to carrying out comprehensive consultation with the local community. 

“Input from the local community is critical to the future success of any project and we will actively consider information provided throughout the consultation period in order to fully scope out possible options for the site and a way forward.”

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