Remediation is currently under way on the 40 acre site and developers are calling for businesses specialising in the environmental sector to join its ‘cluster’ of eco-businesses. Somerset boasts a 50 member ‘Green Business Club’, two green power plants, as well as Genesis, the first sustainable construction centre in the UK to offer a foundation degree.

Bob Chapman of King Sturge, who are managing the development, told edie news it was good to be cleaning up an old industrial site to encourage new businesses.

“We’ll have a combination of old and listed buildings which have been revamped, as well as new-build units. Over 18,000 square meters of office and light industrial space in total,” he said. “All buildings will also comply with best practice in sustainable construction techniques and will be sensitively designed to comply with development design codes.”

The site, Morlands Enterprise Park, is named after Bailey’s and Morlands, formerly Europe’s largest tannery. “If you ever had a sheep skin coat in the 1970’s it doubtless came from here,” said Chapman.

Despite this, he said the contamination was not as bad as had originally been thought and consisted only of a few “hotspots” so remediation should be fairly swift.

In addition to the business space which will be provided, eight acres will also be set aside for a large CHP power plant which will take household waste from nearby to provide heat and power for the entire business park.

Gordon Woodend, Somerset Head of Operations for the South West RDA, which is working with Mendip District Council and the local community to develop the park, said: “Our regional economic strategy acknowledges how important the environment is in strengthening the economy. The RDA supports a variety of initiatives, such as helping companies compete on the global stage, to help the sector improve productivity levels. We hop businesses will be occupying Morlands Enterprise Park in two to three years, with the site fully occupied in five to ten years, but this obviously depends on market forces.”

Mr Chapman said the remediation would be complete in early 2005 and the infrastructure work by the Autumn. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from businesses so far and a lot of enquiries, which is good news. This is a unique site with lots of potential.”

By David Hopkins

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