A MOBILE testing unit for Covid-19 will open this weekend on the former Cockenzie Power Station site.

The drive-through centre will be operated by the 51st Infantry Brigade which oversees the army reserve units in Scotland and will carry out tests on key workers from tomorrow (Saturday) to Monday with plans to return again in two weeks’ time.

East Lothian Council confirmed it had made the site available as part of the UK Government’s Covid-19 testing programme.

It will be the first Covid-19 testing site of its kind in East Lothian, where an assessment centre has also been operating at Musselburgh Primary Care Centre since the start of April.

The Cockenzie site, bought by the local authority from ScottishPower, is currently being marketed for economic investment.

In preparation of the appointment-only testing unit’s opening, signs and cones have been put in place to direct drivers.

The centre will re-open on Saturday, May 30, through to Monday, June 1, and is providing back-up support to a main testing centre at Edinburgh Airport.

Key workers who have symptoms, or have a member of their household displaying symptoms, can self-refer to the site through the UK Government’s online portal.

Military staff will make appropriate use of PPE and no equipment will be left on site while the facility is closed.

The council said it expects the unit to operate as a self-contained, drivethrough facility.

People will remain in their vehicle while being tested.

It is not known how many tests can be carried out at the site each day.

Tom Reid, the council’s head of infrastructure, said: “We were asked to identify a potentially suitable site for a drive-through, mobile testing facility to be located.

“The former Cockenzie Power Station site was identified as a site which could be operated safely by military personnel.

“This facility would enable key workers who are self-isolating due to them or household members displaying symptoms to undergo testing, which is a vital component of the national response to tackling Covid-19. East Lothian Council will continue to play its part and work with partners locally and nationally in dealing with the challenges posed by the emergency.”

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray welcomed the move to open the centre at Cockenzie.

He said: “I have been calling on the Scottish Government to follow the World Health Organisation’s advice and ramp up the amount of testing we are doing for over a month now, so I welcome this new centre in Cockenzie and hope it will mean local key workers do not have to travel so far to access a test.

“A significant increase in testing capacity will be essential if the Scottish Government’s plans for testing, tracing and isolating are to be successful and this centre will contribute to the expansion needed.”

The move was also welcomed by local community councils.

Bryan Hickman, chairperson of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council, said: “We are pleased that the site is being used for a testing unit. It seems very suitable and hopefully it will help in getting this terrible virus under control.”

Brian Weddell, chairperson of Prestonpans Community Council, said: “The former power station site at Preston Links is an ideal location for a Covid testing site for East Lothian. It is remote enough from local communities with plenty of space to ensure government distancing regulations are maintained.”

The drive-through testing centres are available to people who live less than 90 minutes drive from them and are in addition to NHS Scotland testing.

Scottish Government guidelines on who can apply for a test at the UK Government mobile testing centres are on their website.

For a full list of those eligible to go bit.ly/3csB9ii Key workers who are, or have a family member who is, symptomatic, can sign up via the self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk portal.

Cockenzie power station’s famous twin chimneys were demolished in a controlled explosion in September 2015, two years after it had closed.