ARAB money could be used to revive an unpopular water sports project.

Protestors forced developers to defend plans for a £2m cable-ski scheme on the River Tees, at a public inquiry two years ago.

Despite the plan subsequently being given the go-ahead by Environment Secretary John Prescott, local people led by Thornaby Town Council and Stockton South MP Dari Taylor, successfully scuppered successive bids by developer Rixendale Leisure to secure £1m of National Lottery money, and £600,000 of European development funding.

Now campaigners fear that wealthy desert sheikhs may pump funds into the scheme, which would see water skiers carried over a man-made lake by a pylons-supported overhead cable, across Thornaby's last remaining wetland.

It is understood that Rixendale executive Giles Dales has been on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Stockton Borough Council found itself facing the fury of local people when it included the ski-ing idea in the local plan, not realising the strength of local opposition.

Stockton South MP Dari Taylor states in her news sheet, distributed across the constituency: "We have heard threats that his company is looking for Saudi money. Let's make sure that no amount of money is going to spoil this landscape. Let's ask the local authority to change its local plan.''