PLANS for an energy village founded on "hot rocks" are facing heated opposition in the tiny hamlet next to the proposed site.

Residents of Eastgate, in County Durham, say the scheme put forward by a task force is pie in the sky and would dwarf the surrounding area.

The Upper Weardale Task Force is consulting people in the valley on its plans for an eco-village, with housing, leisure and business areas, which could attract tourists to the former Lafarge cement site.

Parish councillor Kathleen Hutchinson told a meeting: "I can't see that it will do Eastgate any good. It will swamp the place.

"I can't see it working. If the cement works, which was a profitable, professional operation wasn't viable here, I can't see that this would be. To me, it is pie in the sky."

Plans for a renewable energy centre on the site are already attracting international interest because it offers a unique combination of wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal energy.

Winter sports, railways, eel farming and a woodland cathedral are other elements of the proposals, which could take 20 years to develop.

Eastgate resident Alan Gibbons was overwhelmed by the scale of the project.

He said: "It was quite a shock. It would be absolutely enormous."

Task force chairman John Hamilton said: "I can understand their concerns about a development on this scale.

"People will take some convincing. This is going to take time to develop. It won't all happen overnight. It is a concept at this stage and there are a number of risks because it is a very challenging project."

The next public meeting on the scheme is on Tuesday at 6.45pm in the Durham Dales Centre, Stanhope. Only one person turned up for the first consultation meeting in Bishop Auckland last week.