Showground bids to become 'energy self-sufficient'

The UK's largest agricultural venue will become the first showground in the country to be completely "energy self-sufficient", it has been revealed.

The Royal Bath & West of England Society is to spend £120m making its Somerset site a sustainable visitor attraction, creating 1,500 new jobs in the process.

The scheme will transform expand the Shepton Mallet site radically, to take in exhibition centres, hotels, business and retail premises, log cabin holiday homes, outdoor adventure activities, a cycle track, and an 'eco-zone' showcasing sustainable living.

Despite its size the ground will generate its own energy, using photovoltaic cells, which transfrom sunlight into power, and use 'anaerobic digestion' of biomass waste from local dairy industries.

Excess electricity will be sold back to the National Grid, generating new income for the showground.

Dr Jane Guise, chief executive of the Royal Bath & West said: 'We want to transform the showground and create a vibrant, high-quality events venue of a national standard.

"We believe our plans will achieve this and ensure long-term financial stability, raising the investment needed to fund the redevelopment and create a solid and growing revenue stream to safeguard the future.

"The Society has enjoyed tremendous support from all the local authorities to bring forward the regeneration of the Showground.

"There is a huge amount of work to be done and we will of course continue to work very closely with the county and district councils on this. Our aim, after detailed consultation with all parties, is to submit a planning application later this year.

"These plans will take 12 to 15 years to complete in full, but we hope to make significant progress with the major tourist and business elements before the end of 2012."

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