Hungary to build R16bn green-powered town from scratch

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Hungary is planning to create a green-powered town with jobs and housing for thousands on a barren strip of Danube flood plain.

The €1bn (bout R16bn) Hegyeshalom-Bezenye project in northwest Hungary will be the size of about 500 soccer pitches and have full amenities such as schools and shopping facilities, said co-developers EON and German property company FAKT on Tuesday. Vegetables will be grown under glass where scrubland is today.

The carbon-neutral town will draw mainly on solar and biogas power and will create as many as 5 000 permanent jobs in the greenhouse venture, Nikolai Ulrich, a board member of FAKT, said by phone. The property company is partnering with EON, builder KESZ Group and the Hungarian government on the venture.

The sweeping infrastructure and horticultural project underlines "how a scrap of land and vision can create a green business and community venture of scale," said Ulrich. FAKT and its partners say the project will serve as a model for other conversion sites across the continent, including coal regions making the switch to clean energy.

When complete, Hegyeshalom-Bezenye will include about 1 000 homes, a restaurant, hotel, rail station, shopping facilities as well as schools and training units. The project embeds a sustainable water management policy that aims to avoid lowering the area’s water table, said Ulrich. Cooling will be supplied via geothermal plants, he said.

As well as boosting Hungary’s supply of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, the site will host Europe’s largest inland fishery, cultivating salmon, bass and sea bream, he said.

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