East Lothian Cruise terminal plan could be dropped

Friday June 23rd 2023

Cockenzie Power Station site

The former Cockenzie Power Station land, which East Lothian Council bought in 2018.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A vision of a cruise terminal at the site of a former East Lothian power station looks dead in the water as councillors are being asked to stop any further investigation into it.

A report on the future of the former Cockenzie Power Station land, which East Lothian Council bought in 2018 says it is time to drop the port option for the coastal site which faces ‘significant challenges’.

And it says an alternative project to create a national climate change centre on the land does not currently have the funding to go ahead.

Councillors will be told the high capital costs of a cruise terminal, long payback period required and a potential lack of investment from the cruise industry makes it unlikely to be viable at a meeting next Tuesday.

The report reveals the site would need national support which has not materialised after it was not identified in the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) for port use.

The report also highlights a number of other practical challenges in relation to infrastructure, transport, practicality and potential berthing challenges.

Councillors will be asked to agree that port proposals should not be taken further forward at Tuesday’s meeting and instead focus on employment-related, land-based development promoting net zero infrastructure and significant economic opportunities.

The proposal for a national climate change centre, known as the 360 project, along with the creation of public art installations of giant fisherwomen looking out to see and green space, is not being taken off the table but councillors will be told a recent report put its capital costs at £29.6m and suggested it was ‘economically unviable’.

Councillors will be asked to “note that the 360 Project report identifies a vision for a climate change centre, public realm and education/training on the site, but also identifies risks and viability challenges in terms of the proposals, for which there is no current funding.”

And they will be told that Levelling Up funding of £11.3M bid granted by the UK Government was won on the back of the Cockenzie Masterplan which was drawn up with extensive public consultation in 2017 and will be used to undertake site preparation and remediation works for future development.

The report acknowledges that part of the 2017 vision for the site included ‘public realm improvements’ at the site which could incorporate some of the 360 project.

It says: “Whilst the report suggests 360 Group’s proposed climate change visitor centre is economically unviable, the 2017 Cockenzie Masterplan did envisage public realm improvements throughout the site and on the seafront areas.

“Therefore there is overlap with the 360 Group’s vision for public open space, public realm, public art and greenspace improvements to the site.”

It says the members of the group behind the climate change project have been encouraged to engage with elected members and a further report on its will be brought back to council after the summer recess.

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