THE former Cockenzie Power Station site will be sold to East Lothian Council.

ScottishPower has confirmed the local authority as their preferred bidder for the site after extensive negotiations since the station closed in 2013.

The announcement will bring an end to speculation about future ownership of the site and, once the deal is struck, will allow the council to progress its masterplan for the area, which remains under wraps almost a year after public consultations began.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, said: "East Lothian Council believes that the former Cockenzie Power Station site presents an important opportunity for economic development and to meet the aspirations of local communities.

"News that we are Scottish Power’s preferred bidder is a positive step forward, although there remains work to do in order to confirm an agreement which enables the council to formally purchase the site.

"We are looking to progress this as quickly as possible and will provide further details in due course.

"We recognise the significance of the site and will ensure local communities continue to be involved and engaged."

ScottishPower said: "The process to determine the future of the power station site has involved a wide range of detailed discussions. We can confirm that East Lothian council is the preferred bidder, and further talks will now take place to confirm the details of the sale. "We will work closely with the council to conclude these discussions as quickly as possible.

"ScottishPower has been part of the local community for over 50 years, and we have been working hard since Cockenzie closed to ensure the best outcome for the site.”

The announcement was welcomed by East Lothian MSP Iain Gray who said: "This is the news we have been waiting for and should hopefully mean that plans for the site’s future can start to move forward.

“I have always been clear that those plans must be community-led and enjoy the broad support of local people. However, I am equally clear that the development of the site offers a unique opportunity to bring new economic opportunities and jobs to East Lothian.

"East Lothian Council’s masterplan process means that much of the preparatory work has already been done. I hope that the ownership of the site can now be finalised as rapidly as possible, and that the hard work of ensuring we maximise the economic and social opportunities in the area can finally get underway."