IT has been met with scepticism and dismissed by many as fanciful, but a proposal to redevelop a redundant cement works could be at the heart of Weardale's revival.

The Weardale Energy Concept looks to use renewable energy sources on the site of LaFarge UK's former Eastgate plant, around which a model village, dubbed Eco-Disney, could be created.

But the idea has been snubbed by many locals, who called for "proper jobs" in manufacturing and industry.

However, if the project was to echo the success of a development in Wales, the dale will enjoy an influx of visitors and businesses based around the site.

When The Centre for Alternative Energy, in Machynlleth, Wales, was created 30 years ago in a disused slate quarry, its founders were greeted with suspicion.

Today, its water and solar power generates electricity for much of the Dyfi Valley and its energy-efficient buildings, organic gardens, water-powered Cliff Railway and visitor centre is the biggest attraction in mid-Wales.

A spokeswoman said: "We have 65,000 visitors a year, and 10,000 scholars make trips.

"About ten new businesses have started, directly related to the centre, and neighbouring ones have benefited from extra visitors."

At Eastgate, the combination of renewable sources is thought to be unique.

Most unusual is geothermal power, using warm water from hot rocks, discovered beneath the site 15 years ago.

Heat from the rocks combined with biomass energy, from burning waste material from surrounding woodland, could heat buildings onsite.

Three wind turbines and hydro-power could also generate electricity.

The power generated would be used in a model village, containing homes, holiday accommodation, business units and a visitor centre. Extra energy could be sold to the National Grid.

Task force chairman John Hamilton said: "I am confident the more people know about the ideas, the more supportive they will be."

The task force will hold a public meeting at Eastgate Village Hall tomorrow, at 7pm, to outline the plans.