A new plan under development by Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDR) could see the site of a former nuclear power station being converted to Scotland’s first experimental “green energy park”, bringing scores of jobs to an economically fragile area.

D&G Council has confirmed it is working with the other bodies to “bring forward proposals” for Chapelcross, near Annan. The station was an important part of the UK nuclear weapons programme as well as a power station before it was decommissioned in 2004.

The plan includes proposals for rent-free or low-rent premises for start-up and experimental energy companies, and other enterprises from the local area.

As well as providing an incubator for experimental companies, the scheme aims to capitalise on new feed-in tariff (FiT) guidelines by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which came into effect in April 2015 and are designed to support community renewable electricity projects of up to 10MW.

Four of these projects are expected to be incorporated within the plan.

The proposed community projects are envisioned as sources of funding for new services for the local community including after-school clubs and temporary residence schemes designed to mitigate the problem of delayed discharge or “bed blocking” in local hospitals.

D&G Council’s spokesman said the partners “recognise that the Chapelcross site represents a major opportunity to attract inward investment and create new jobs which will have a positive impact on the regional economy”. He added: “The vision for the site is to develop a sustainable, mixed-use approach providing opportunities for large and small-scale businesses across a range of sectors. It is highly likely that the energy sector will play a prominent role within that mix, with opportunities for research and development, generation and storage.”

A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said the agency was “actively engaged in discussions on the future development of Chapelcross and we are working closely with Dumfries and Council to explore a range of potential opportunities”.

Local company Scotia Global Energy is planning to build the UK’s first “hybrid” power station on part of the 90-hectare site, which is currently owned by the NDR. The innovative power station is intended to radically reduce CO2 emissions, while providing demand-response electricity by incorporating energy stored from Scotland’s large but intermittent wind generation capacity.

Quoted in the Annandale Herald last week, local green energy advocate and community activist Roland Chaplain said that Chapelcross was effectively in a race with other parts of the UK to secure the hybrid generation technology: “We’re now in a fight to get this to Scotland ... I think that it’s just so important for the local economy and the Scottish economy.”

A facility at Chapelcross that took advantage of millions of pounds of previous investment in grid connectivity has also received support from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce and its chief executive Brian Richardson, a former engineer.

He told the Sunday Herald: “Our presentation argued the case that D&G is replete with all types of renewable energy and there is a huge potential to become a net regional exporter of energy with related job opportunities.

“The barrier to moving forward is the current lack of energy storage at the domestic, microgrid and transmission grid levels.

“The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has provided a simple calculation that a unit of stored energy is needed for every 3.5 units of renewable energy to ensure a balanced grid. In D&G,that equates to 60MW of energy storage capacity or 3.5GW across Scotland.

“It is appreciated that the energy issue is in the hands of Westminster. However, there is no reason why the Scottish Government can’t make a statement of political intent.”

Richardson has put the initial cost of an energy storage facility at between £50 million and £100m, with capacity of up to 100MW.

Chaplain said that 20 acres of the Chapelcross site would be set aside for a community ownership project, and that he has been in discussions with Wullie Findlay, the departing chairman of Eastriggs, Dornock and Creca Community Council about the childcare and elderly healthcare proposals.

A Magnox nuclear reactor, Chapelcross was the sister plant to Calder Hall in Cumbria. Construction was completed in 1959.

The primary purpose was to produce plutonium for the UK’s nuclear weapons.

It was initially owned and operated by the production group of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) until the creation of British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) in 1971 by an Act of Parliament.

The site then operated in conjunction with Calder Hall under the banner of BNFL’s Electricity Generation Business (EGB) until rebranding, relicensing and restructuring of the various nuclear businesses operated by the UK Government under the umbrella legal entity of BNFL took place in April 2005.