DIGGERS are being used to excavate a fishing lake the size of a football pitch.
Over £1m is being spent on the fish farm and outdoor learning centre on the site of former rail sidings in Walkley Lane, Heckmondwike.
The Green Business Network – which was formed by Kirklees and Calderdale councils in 1995 – wants the facility to provide training and education for children excluded from school, those in mainstream education and offenders on community punishment orders.
Work has now started on digging the pond funded with a £60,000 Environment Agency grant.
Youngsters will be taught to fish for sturgeon, tilapia, catfish and carp – with an estimated 5,000kg of fish per annum being produced there after a three-year period.
The fish will be made into pies, soups and pâté at an on-site café.
The café will take inspiration from Holland and will be built on wetland on a floating pontoon so that it is not at risk of flooding.
The development is on the site of a former railway line and will also feature a BMX pump track suitable for people with physical difficulties, and nature walks. The scheme forms part of the social enterprise ABLE Project.
The site’s construction will be undertaken by disadvantaged young people in a bid to train them and provide them with employment opportunities.
Pete Turner, a spokesman from the Environment Agency said: “We’re delighted the plans for this pond are now coming to fruition.
“The ABLE Project is a fantastic example of how small pots of funding can be brought together for the benefit of the community.
“Not only is our cash going to create an amazing resource for wildlife, it will be the classroom for scores of young people as they learn to fish and to appreciate the nature around them.
“We’ve spent a long time working with ABLE to get to this point, and it’s great to be able to see work starting.”
The Environment Agency has supported the ABLE Project on various developments around West Yorkshire with advice and money to help them develop angling facilities.
The ABLE Heckmondwike development is expected to be completed and open to the public by the end of this year.
The pond should be ready for use for fishing by autumn, 2012.