Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Boost for Durham Eco-friendly Centre Plans

Plans for a landmark £25million eco-friendly centre on a former cement works in Durham have received a boost, with news that the local council had submitted a bid for lottery funding. Durham County Council has submitted a bid for £20million lottery funding for the project – known as The Watershed – which will form part of a unique renewable energy model village proposed for the site. The village will be a working demonstration to visitors of the five land-based renewable energies; geothermal, hydro, solar, biomass and wind, all of which are available on site.

The learning centre itself will include training and conference facilities, as well as residential accommodation for 10,000 young people each year, providing a full range of environmental education and outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, caving, high ropes, water skills, conservation work and mountain biking. Plans for the centre, to be drawn up in consultation with local people, will be part of the planning application being devised for the model village by the Weardale Task Force, and are expected to be submitted for consideration later this year. Durham County Council has teamed up with Endeavour, a national charity which specialises in the education of 14 to 19-year-olds through outdoor and residential education, to create the project.

Leader of Durham County Council, Coun Ken Manton, said: “The need to further develop the quality of outdoor education has been recognised by the county council and Endeavour Training for some time. “The redevelopment of the Lafarge Cement Works site at Eastgate is an important opportunity for the region, to provide a unique attraction, of national and international significance. “This will not only redress the economic balance following the job losses when the cement works closed, but also provide Weardale with a new landmark, which could attract as many visitors as Beamish Museum.”

The total cost of the centre is expected to be met with £20 million from the Lottery, with the remaining £5 million provided by Durham County Council, Endeavour Trust Fund, Clow Beck Children’s Trust and Weardale Task Force.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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