TALKS are at an advanced stage over the sale of the former Hyundai plant in Dunfermline, the Press can reveal.

However, the new owner will not be high-tech American firm Zoom Diversified, whose plans to bring hundreds of jobs to the ‘white elephant’ site have fallen through.

The huge factory at Halbeath has been lying unused since being built as a computer chip manufacturer and it is now reported that Zoom have dropped plans for a high-tech solar cell operation which had offered the prospect of up to 1000 jobs.

However, attention has switched to another possible buyer and it is hoped that the final details can be ironed out in the near future.

“It’s a complicated matter because this all goes back years and it was the Scottish Office who were involved at the start but hopefully the outstanding matters can be resolved very soon,” said a source close to the negotiations.

It remains to be seen exactly what the prospective owner has in mind but it is believed to involve building offices on the site after demolishing the factory.

The new plans will be much less ambitious and are likely to aim at far fewer jobs than the ill-fated proposals for the site up to now, all of which have come to nothing.

The Scottish Government had offered Zoom £10 million in Regional Selective Assistance with Finance Secretary John Swinney closely involved.

The company had been hoping to obtain as much as £33 million in grants but in the event received nothing from the public purse as the money was dependent on jobs.

The Press was told by council officers back in the summer of 2008 that a major announcement on the plans was imminent.

However, as the months then years passed with no news forthcoming, the local scepticism over another promised jobs bonanza proved to be well founded.

With so much time passing without the sign of any progress, it is perhaps not surprising that the plans are finally being scrapped.

However, the reports came as a “shock” to Councillor Tony Martin, chair of Fife’s environment, enterprise and transport committee.

Mr Martin said, “I knew nothing about this and I’ve still not had it confirmed that Zoom have pulled out. The last I heard the talks were still going on.

“It’s obviously another bitter disappointment that we’ve had hopes of new jobs dashed at this site.

“I met these guys (Zoom), a while back now. The plans were very exciting and it looked like it would go ahead.

“I also spoke to John Swinney at the time and the Scottish Government was doing all it could as indeed we were at Fife Council.” Mr Martin said he knew nothing about another possible buyer.

Zoom, based in San Jose, California, is a global company involved in developing state-of-the-art technology in solar energy.

The project would have seen the arrival of around 400 top quality jobs at opening with more to follow but the promises have turned to dust just like they did with Hyundai and Motorola.

The Hyundai factory was built in the 1990s with 2000 jobs promised but the huge investment collapsed, blamed on a financial crisis in South Korea.

Motorola then stepped in and West Fifers were told that 1350 jobs were in the pipeline but again nothing materialised.

The plant has been lying idle and unoccupied since being completed in 1999 and, as Scotland’s biggest-ever industrial white elephant, has been an embarrassment to successive generations of politicians.

The site is still owned by Freescale, parent firm of Motorola, but that could be about to change.

MSP for Dunfermline West, Jim Tolson, told the Press, “It is quite reasonable that the existing building be removed and something else put there.

“Whether in the end it is providing jobs through construction and office facilities then I would be supportive.

“The important thing is the land is kept for employment and not housing.

“If a developer wanted to seek a change to the local plan and build houses there, I’m sure local members would take a dim view.”