PLANS for a pioneering "green2 village in County Durham have been given the seal of approval by a music legend.
Brian Eno, one of the founder members of 70s glam and art rock hitmakers Roxy Music, and now a respected newspaper columnist and record producer, spoke out in favour of the proposed eco-village at Eastgate, Weardale.
Speaking last week on the Museum of Curiosity show on BBC Radio 4, hosted by John Lloyd and comedian Sean Lock, he was invited to ‘donate a fascinating exhibit to a vast imaginary museum’.
He put forward an Icelandic volcano as a means of energy production, and discussed potential geothermal energy production in the UK, naming Southampton and Eastgate as the country’s key geothermal schemes.
Weardale councillor John Shuttleworth said: “I am delighted to hear that somebody as well known as Brian Eno has heard of Eastgate.
“The future of our existing businesses, schools, village halls and churches depends on this site.”
Final plans were recently submitted to council planners for the green village. The scheme to convert the former cement works site is likely to go before unitary authority Durham County Council’s planning committee in June.
The scheme, which promises to create at least 350 jobs, would also offer mountain biking through former limestone quarries, a cable car and toboggan run, a station for the rejuvenated Weardale railway, geothermally heated koi carp fish ponds, reed-bed sewage treatment, business space and 99 new houses warmed by a biomass heating scheme.
Ruling on the scheme will be one of the first major planning decisions for the new unitary authority.
Eastgate will be the only site in the country to use all five forms of landbased energy available in the UK – solar, wind, water, biomass and geothermal from drilling deep into underground hot rocks to create a spa pool and heat buildings.
One NorthEast’s John Topliss, project manager for Eastgate Renewable Energy village, said: “As with any proposed development of this scale there are a large number of issues that have to be balanced. We want to enable development to happen whilst giving appropriate consideration and protection to ecology, landscape and other issues.
“Additional survey work was requested by some of the statutory consultees and that work has now been completed and incorporated into a final master plan.
“It has been very important to consider and act upon more detailed feedback from local community and statutory consultee colleagues so we can create a sustainable development that will not only boost the local economy and offer employment opportunities, but will be ecologically and visually sympathetic to the stunning landscape at Eastgate.
“It now rests with the local planning authority to determine our application.”