A GREEN energy project to harness the waves at Cockenzie into energy has been presented to East Lothian Council.

The proposals for the former Cockenzie Power Station site would create hundreds of jobs and see the entire site, which was bought by the local authority from ScottishPower, brought back into use.

But it has drawn concern from Prestonpans Community Council, which points out that a masterplan for the site predicts it has potential for 3,000 jobs – far more than the project would deliver.

Edinburgh-based development management company Composium Group Ltd has set out their proposals for the site, which would create an energy centre to house water-source heat pumps served with seawater from below the seabed of the Firth of Forth.

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, has revealed that he has met with the consortium and is supporting the bid at a “national” as well as local level.

Mr MacAskill said: “I’ve met representatives of this consortium and think that there’s huge potential in their scheme.

“It’s obviously of national, not just local, significance and I’m seeking a meeting for them with ministers. It has the opportunity to build on the county’s past and current energy source and provide employment in a manner that will enhance, not detract from the environment.

“There requires to be consultation locally but it certainly has potential.”

The only approved plans for the site are for Inch Cape Offshore Limited’s (ICOL) planned substation to bring offshore energy onto land.

That proposal was decided by Scottish Ministers, who called in the planning application before East Lothian Council had ruled on it.

The company at the heart of the latest plans confirmed it would take up all of the former power station footprint, with the exception of the space set aside for ICOL’s substation.

Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, said whatever proposal brought forward for Cockenzie had to benefit the local communities.

Vitally important

He said: “The former Cockenzie Power Station site is at the heart of economic development opportunities in East Lothian.

“It’s vitally important that the site is developed in a way that’s sustainable and right for local communities, as well as delivering new jobs and greater prosperity for the whole county.

“I know there are a number of potential proposals emerging, including this one.

“East Lothian Council, as owners of the site, will eventually have to make decisions on the site’s future and what will bring most benefit. However, that work is currently being held up by the Scottish Government’s delay in progressing the new National Planning Framework.

“The council has presented a strong vision for Cockenzie and the wider area, including Blindwells, to be designated a National Development and a Climate Change Zone, which would open up an exciting range of possibilities.”

Brian Weddell, Prestonpans Community Council chairperson, said: “Prestonpans Community Council looks forward to engaging with the consortium on their proposals for the former power station site at Preston Links.

“Initial concerns have already been expressed that this plan appears to encroach on the Greenhills, which is a popular area on the foreshore used by many local people.

“We also would like much more detail on the potential for local jobs.

“The Cockenzie Masterplan, published three years ago, outlined that the site could provide over 3,000 jobs and, in the current economic climate, the local community desperately needs new employment initiatives and we would seek details on the jobs that they say they could deliver.”

Bryan Hickman, Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council chairperson, said that the group would want to see more on the plans before offering a detailed opinion but described the green energy project as a “promising start”.

At the heart of the latest project is UK company TELESIS Synergy Systems Limited, which plans to provide “green, clean, innovative energy” on site.

The initial energy would be used to heat a 20-hectare horticultural operation which would see greenhouses built on the former coal plant site, as well as providing energy for a green data centre on the footprint of the power station itself.

Phase two of the proposals reveals plans to extend the energy centre to create low-cost, low-carbon, heating for local housing.

It is claimed the project would create 200 jobs in the development of phase one and up to 250 jobs permanently once phase one is complete.

Jon Harkins, business development director of TELESIS Synergy Systems, said: “Green, clean utility supplies such as those we are proposing to provide at Cockenzie will be the platform for operations and employment on that site for many generations to come.

“The geothermal qualities of the naturally purified water we acquire from below the seabed of the Firth of Forth is obtained through a system that has a lifecycle that is measured in hundreds of years.”

Ron Daniel, CEO of Composium Group Ltd, said: “We have a few of the big boys interested in being involved in this project, household names. The proposition ticks many boxes.

“Cockenzie presents an unparalleled opportunity for a green development in that there is not only a National Grid substation on the site but also the same site is the delivery point of a renewable (wind turbine) supply (up to 1000MW) of which we require a 5MWsupply.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of a proposal for the former Cockenzie Power Station site and are awaiting more detail. No formal plans have been submitted at this stage.”