WORK on a new electricity substation on the former Cockenzie Power Station site, to serve an offshore windfarm, is not expected to get under way for three years even if it is given the go-ahead.

Plans to site the substation, which would bring power generated by the proposed Inch Cape Offshore Windfarm onto land, are expected to be lodged with East Lothian Council next month.

But Richard Copeland, project manager for Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL), has said he believes construction work would begin on the site either in 2020 or 2021.

Plans for a substation were approved by East Lothian Council on a portion of the site of the Battle of Prestonpans in 2014.

Mr Copeland told Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council that ICOL had decided to look for an alternative site after that plan had resulted in strong public concerns.

He said the company looked at three alternative sites, including the former coal store at the power station and the gas distribution station which lies across the road from the power station land, before opting for the new location.

He said: “The gas holder site was not large enough for the substation and the construction work which would be associated with it.

“We looked at the coal store but there is a contamination issue with the land which made it too expensive.”

Instead, ICOL is proposing to put the substation on land directly opposite the gas distribution site, with plans to connect it to the power station’s own substation which Mr Copeland said was still functioning and would provide a link into the National Grid.

He said that the substation plan would take up 25 per cent of the former power station land and ICOL was committed to working with the community about the proposed landscaping, with plans to build additional bunds which would effectively extend the Greenhills around the site.

Ward councillor Neil Gilbert said: “There are some who have had reservations about this plan as it is a prime site near to the shore.

“Would it affect other proposals?”

But Mr Copeland moved to reassure him, saying: “We are dedicated to making sure we are not sterilising the site for anyone else. We are only taking up 25 per cent of the power station area and will ensure it does not affect other areas.”

The community council made no decision at the meeting as to whether to support or object to the plans.

However, a meeting of neighbouring Prestonpans Community Council’s enterprise sub-committee agreed to lodge the community council’s unanimous objection to the ICOL plan to site the substation on the proposed land.