AMBITIOUS plans to create a £50 million energy park in Bulwell — and 500 jobs into the bargain — have taken a giant leap forward.
Nottingham City Council is behind the environmentally-friendly scheme, which is earmarked for the site of the Blenheim Lane allotments in the town.
It would feature business units and an incinerator to generate power for the nearby firms by recycling rubbish, including food scraps. Wind turbines could also be used.
Key to the scheme going ahead is private funding, so potential investors held a meeting with council chiefs.
However a cloud is still hanging over the project.
For a small band of allotment-holders on the land say they have a right to stay there and will consider legal action if forced to leave to make way for the energy park.
The deputy leader of Nottingham City Council, Coun Graham Chapman (Lab), said: “This energy park would maintain our unique position as the UK’s most sustainable city while boosting the local economy through the creation of jobs, which is one of the council’s top priorities.”
He added: “We are keen to speak to the gardeners about our proposal, which will bring much-needed jobs to the area.
“We want to work with the gardeners to agree an appropriate time to leave the site so that crops don’t suffer and their hard work is not wasted.
“We will also provide compensation and support the gardeners to apply for alternative plots in the area.”
The 6.7-hectare site lined up for the proposed energy park has been the centre of dispute for many years.
Back in 2001, the city council gave the green light for world-renowned bike-manufacturer Raleigh to build a massive factory on the land.
The council spent £1.6 million to decontaminate an adjacent site to provide new allotments. But several refused to move and it ended in a High-Court battle.
In March 2002, Raleigh decided to stop assembling bikes in Nottingham, citing delays to the Bulwell plans as a factor.
Now allotment-holders are threatening a similar protest over the energy park.
But Nottingham City Council, which owns the land, has already served notice that it wants to take the land back for the project.
The site was leased to the Blenheim Lane Allotment Association back in 1986.
The council hopes the scheme will attract new companies to Bulwell in the ‘green technology’ sector.
After reviewing the meeting with potential investors, the council will issue a ‘prior information notice’ to give more detail about the project and invite interested parties to explain how they could support and finance the energy park. They will be expected to make a formal ‘expression of interest’.
A decision on the way forward will be taken in the spring.