Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 10:55 UK

'Eco-village' scheme considered

Former Lafarge site
The site is the size of 500 football pitches

Revised plans for an "eco village", designed to revitalise a rural area of County Durham, are due to be considered by councillors.

Outline proposals for the complex, at Eastgate's former Lafarge cement works, were initially submitted in April 2008.

The scheme has since been amended to "balance environmental and landscape matters", according to project bosses.

The development will include new homes, a hotel, and a geo-thermally heated spa, and could cost up to £100m.

It will cover an area equivalent to the size of 500 football pitches.

We hope it won't be called in [to a public inquiry], but it may well be, and that's a possibility we'll have to look at
John Hamilton, Weardale Taskforce chairman

The Weardale Taskforce, which is submitting the plans, said the site will feature all five forms of land-based renewable energy available in the UK - hydro, solar, wind, biomass and geothermal.

It is hoped that the project will create about 350 local jobs.

However, the application has attracted 112 objections, including concerns about traffic noise and the impact on the environment.

Work on the complex could potentially begin later this year, according to John Hamilton, chairman of the taskforce.

He said: "We hope it won't be called in [to a public inquiry], but it may well be, and that's a possibility we'll have to look at.

"But assuming planning permission is granted there are certain things that will happen within six months."

In 2004, a bore hole drilled to 1,000m (3,300ft) revealed the presence of geo-thermally heated water at the site - prompting the planned village to be dubbed by some the "Bath of the North".

The outline plans will be considered by Durham County councillors on 29 September.



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SEE ALSO
Visitor hopes for eco resort plan
03 Sep 07 |  England
Concerns over 25m green village
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08 Nov 05 |  Wear
'Jobs not our job' says task force
08 Jan 04 |  England
Call for jobs at cement site
08 Aug 03 |  Wear

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