Widespread support for a piece of Blue Sky

MULTI-MILLION regeneration plans for former surface mines have attracted widespread support among villagers.

The Blue Sky Forest project is being led by the Widdrington Regeneration Partnership to create a massive leisure, recreation and tourism complex in the Northumberland countryside.

Land owners UK Coal and Harworth Estates are fully behind the vision and earlier this year the Herald revealed that Stoneheads Associates, Sir Bert Millichip (Sports) Limited and Peel Energy were also on board.

The latest plans include an international standard golf course, sports academy, hotel and spa, outdoor adventure centre, ski slope, children’s activity centre, driving experiences, a holiday village, water sports, an event centre, equine facilities and an indoor leisure centre, as well as a 15-turbine windfarm.

The proposals were put on display to the public in a series of exhibitions last month and feedback from questionnaires shows that 70 per cent of respondents believe the scheme will provide a much-needed opportunity for leisure, recreation, tourism and employment.

In addition, more than 75 per cent said Blue Sky Forest should aim to help the local sporting community to grow and improve by providing additional venues and facilities for clubs and individuals.

WRP Chairman Valerie Seddon said: “Receiving this feedback has been invaluable.

“It reaffirms that the initiative is not only of significance to the wider north east region, but there will be direct benefits to communities that live and work in the local area.”

The project will take in the former West Chevington, Stobswood and Maidens Hall opencast sites.

Exhibitions were held in Hadston, Widdrington Village and Widdrington Station.