£1m of taxpayers’ cash ‘wasted’ on failed scheme to produce caviar in Yorkshire


Questions are being asked by councillors about the failure of a council-backed project to produce caviar in West Yorkshire.

The Able2 Project in Heckmondwike, launched in 2011 with the backing of Kirklees Council and the Green Business Network, has been dramatically scaled back due to financial problems.

The public needs to know what has gone wrong.

It was originally planned as a fish farm for caviar-producing sturgeon with the aim of helping disadvantaged young people into education and jobs.

The council put in £1.25m which has been spent on reclaiming a derelict former railway sidings and a landfill site and the creation of a lake.

The lake is said to be almost complete and has been stocked with fish. The Dewsbury and District Junior Angling Club is interested in using and maintaining the lake as a recreational facility.

The council is now proposing to spend £50,000 on angling facilities including a shelter/training facility.

Once completed, the council will withdraw from the Green Business Network.

Conservative councillor Martyn Bolt said the council had to accept some of the blame for the failure of the original project.

He claimed that there was little to show at the site despite “lots of money” being spent. He wants a breakdown of spending and what the money has achieved.

“The public needs to know what has gone wrong.”

A council spokesman said: “It did not prove possible to produce a viable business model for commercial fish farming on the site as originally envisaged.

“During the construction phase the works together with various research and prototype activities took place, including the creation of a replica rail coach to reflect the historic railway connections.

“These activities created a number of job, training and apprentice opportunities for local disadvantaged young people many of whom have since gone on to find alternative employment.”

He said the plan now was to use the lake as a recreational angling facility for young people.