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More than 2,500 jobs could be created at the former Westfield opencast site

20 Oct 2017

Durham-based Hargreaves Land has asked for planning permission in principle to restore what is one of Europe’s largest brownfield sites into an energy-producing powerhouse.

The concept behind the massive scheme on the 423-hectare site is one of restoration, regeneration and sustainable development.

Originally farmland, it became an opencast site in 1955 but production stopped in 1998 and since then it has lain largely unrestored.

Hargreaves acquired it in 2013 and aims to redevelop the site with plans including a solar energy park and other energy-related work, waste recovery and recycling unit, light industrial units and agricultural greenhouses.

A resources recovery park would be the anchor development, creating the chance for other renewable energy and industrial units to be developed.

Several key industries would be encouraged, including food production and recycling businesses, to support the national vision of growth of the local carbon and clean technology sectors.

The scheme could see the reopening of an old railway line to service the business park. Network Rail said the reactivation of the Westfield branch line would be the subject of further discussions.

An estimated 1,075 construction jobs will be created over a 10-year period with the completed development capable of supporting around 1,500 full time posts.

Fife Council officers have recommended the application be conditionally approved, pending legal agreements.