A bid to bring a cruise terminal to the former Cockenzie Power Station site is “doomed to fail,” a ward councillor has said.
East Lothian Council is to write to Forth Ports asking if they have any interest in joining forces with the local authority to build a port at the coastal site
However a council meeting on Wednesday heard the company, which is harbour master for the Firth of Forth, has already revealed plans to invest millions in an additional berth in Leith.
Councillor Lachlan Bruce, ward member covering the power station land, said he did not expect the company to support a Cockenzie terminal.
Speaking to the virtual meeting, Councillor Bruce said: “Any attempt to create a cruise terminal is doomed to fail without Forth Ports explicit support and backing.”
Councillors agreed to ask the council’s chief executive Monica Patterson to write to Forth Ports seeking a formal position from them.
A report to councillors said any port which was created in competition to Forth Ports would not be “viable’.
The meeting heard there are two community backed projects being investigated for part of the site, which is owned by the council.
One is the possibility of a cruise terminal or port at the site with the other a bid to create a National Centre for Climate Change, known as the 360 Centre, which is still at the feasibility study stage.
The report said knowing where the council stood on both projects would allow elected members to make a decision on the future of the site moving forward.
Councillors revealed they had been contacted by the 360 Centre raising concerns about a decision to write to Forth Ports claiming they were “being side-lined.”
Councillor Colin Yorkston said: “The 360 Centre has expressed concern they were being side-lined and that there has been a lack of engagement.
“They asked that we do not take any other action until their feasibility study has been completed.”
Councillor Shona McIntosh questioned why the cruise terminal was on the table, saying it was against the council’s own climate change policy.
However council leader Norman Hampshire said the main focus for the site, which was described as stretching the size of The Meadows to Stockbridge in Edinburgh, was providing jobs.
Councillor Hampshire said: “This council has been open with both communities that our top priority is to create as many high quality jobs in the area as we can.
“We are not going to sideline the community, we have given [the 360 Centre] money to do a feasibility study and they need to put their business plan together and we will see how it can fit into the site.”
Councillors agreed to ask Ms Patterson to write to Forth Ports with the dissent of Councillor McIntosh.
Members unanimously agreed to “appoint development master-planners, commercial agents and progress discussions with the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies, alongside both the UK Government and Scottish Government, regarding the potential use of the site in the future.”
Following the decision councillors also approved plans to apply for up to £15m from the UK Government’s levelling up fund to help create infrastructure and prepare the former power station site for future investment.
The levelling up bid will see funds used to infill the former power stations lab, remove earth bunds surrounding the former coal store, work on the sea wall and coastal flood defences and reroute part of the John Muir Way including the removal of a pedestrian bridge.