THE future of a controversial substation on land earmarked for jobs in East Lothian is up in the air after its owners lost out on UK Government funding.

Inch Cape Offshore Ltd (ICOL) was given permission to build the substation on part of the former Cockenzie Power Station site to bring energy from its planned offshore windfarm, off the Angus coast, to the National Grid. But the firm has been dealt a major blow after its bid for a Government contract to buy the electricity produced by the windfarm failed. And the decision has brought angry reaction from the local community, who opposed the substation plans in the first place but were overruled by the Scottish Government.

Scottish Ministers called in the substation plans after ruling the project to be of “national importance” last year, taking the decision out of the hands of East Lothian Council, the planning authority.

Despite local representations opposing the substation, Scottish Ministers gave it the go-ahead in February amid claims it was necessary to move quickly to meet the deadline for the UK Government funding.

But the UK Government announced its grants late last month and ICOL was not included in the list of successful projects, leaving the firm to rethink its future.

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray said it appeared Scottish Ministers’ decision to “ride roughshod” over local feeling “might all have been for nothing”.

The former power station site was bought by the council last year and the local authority is marketing the land for economic development.

However, the council was forced to reach an agreement with ICOL over a section of the site after the Scottish Government gave the substation the go-ahead.

Mr Gray said: “The immediacy of the UK Government funding decision was the Scottish Government’s justification for riding roughshod over local decision-making and calling in the substation application in the first place.

“I opposed that decision to call in the application as unnecessary and anti-democratic and made the case for it being left in the hands of local people and their representatives.

“However, having put the local community through such uncertainty, it now appears that the Minister’s heavy-handed interference in the site’s future might all have been for nothing. ”

Guy Madgwick, CEO of Red Rock Power, which owns Inch Cape, said: “We are naturally very disappointed that our Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm project has not secured a CfD award.

“The development is a culmination of over 10 years of hard work and significant investment and could play an important role in both achieving the country’s green energy targets and supporting economic growth.

“We will now liaise closely with our supply chain to consider how best to move forward with the project, and hope to share an update as soon as possible.”

Brian Weddell, chairman of Prestonpans Community Council, which is pushing for a ferry and cruise terminal to be investigated for the site, said the decision raised questions about Scottish Ministers’ decision to call in the application.

He said: “This is a very worrying announcement and puts a large question mark over Red Rock’s planned substation at Preston Links.

“At the planning enquiry last year, Red Rock placed considerable emphasis on securing a funding subsidy from the UK Government and this decision also brings into question the wisdom of the Scottish Government calling in their planning application and bypassing the local democratic planning process.”

East Lothian Council said it had held talks with ICOL regarding the site following the announcement and further meetings would be arranged.

A spokesperson said: “We understand [Inch Cape] are considering all options to allow the project to progress.

“We will hold a meeting with them in the near future to discuss a way forward.”