Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 14:18 UK

Centre for Alternative Technology 500k skills appeal

The Wise site at the Centre for Alternative Technology
The 'green collar' skills training site will open but Cat wants to recoup its cash

A Welsh eco-centre is appealing for £530,000 to finish a sustainable skills or "green collar" training complex.

The Centre for Alternative Technology (Cat), near Machynlleth, Powys, dropped the firm working on its Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (Wise).

A legal dispute with the firm has left Cat using cash reserves to complete the job, but it wants to recoup the money.

A Cat spokesman said the appeal was aimed at "anyone interested in having a robust, sustainable green economy".

The alternative technology centre, founded in a derelict slate quarry in a remote part of mid Wales in 1974, said the £5m Wise project is the biggest development in its history.

It said the aim is to create a centre of excellence in for so-called green collar job training in the emerging sustainable green economy.

We're going to finish the building but we don't want to divert our resources away from the other really important work that we're doing
Cat media officer, Alex Randall

Wise is to provide hands-on training and education to give people skills in renewable energy installation and sustainable building techniques, said spokesman Alex Randall.

He said the site - whose lecture theatre walls are made of "rammed earth" - would also offer retraining for plumbers and electricians to enable them to install renewable or solar water heating.

Courses to post graduate and masters level for architects, engineers and planners were also in the pipeline, he said.

He said: "They will need to change their understanding in order to build with sustainable materials but also to change the way they design buildings to make them sustainable."

He added that Wise was on course to open in June as planned but the £530,000 from Cat's contingency plans was "an amount of money we would like to recover".

L-R: Gerard Morgan-Grenville with Prince Philip in 1974
Prince Philip was an early visitor to site founded by Gerard Morgan-Grenville

He said: "We're going to finish the building but we don't want to divert our resources away from the other really important work that we're doing.

"We're in a stable position but we really want to be spending our resources on teaching those courses and on training, not on plugging a gap like that.

"This appeal should be of interest to people who are interested in green issues.

"But it should also be of interest to anyone who is interested in revitalising the economy and creating jobs in an industry like green building."

Prince Philip and Prince Charles

Cat was pioneered on the site of the Llwyngwern slate mine by the late Gerard Morgan-Grenville, an Old Etonian with a passion for green issues.

Early visitors included Prince Philip and Prince Charles.

Cat has since flourished and calls itself Europe's leading eco-centre with 65,000 visitors a year and 180 staff.

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