IT’S strawberry fields forever as plans for a £20 million high-tech fruit production facility in Rosyth are growing.

Energrow Ltd’s plans are big news for the town with 65 full and part-time jobs expected to be created from the venture.

Danny Hughes, chairman of Rosyth Community Council, said: “We are very positive about their plans. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Rosyth.”

The company originally identified two-and-a-half hectares at the waterfront for a new all-year-round strawberry production unit.

But after securing further funding, they now want a four hectare site with the potential investment nearing the £20m mark.

The Loanhead-based company held public information sessions back in January which were described as “extremely positive” about the project at Queensferry One, between Milne Road and Ferry Toll Road.

Andrew McMurtrie, CEO of Energrow, said: “This potentially helps start development as part of the plan for the waterfront. We’ll be producing strawberries in an urban environment and we’re hoping it will make it easier to keep people in local employment.

“On a small scale farmers are looking to extend the seasons but we want to go that step further, using heat and LED light to produce fruit throughout the year.”

The new site would be the same size as five full size football pitches and they will hold two further public open days, with the first in the Parkgate Community Centre in Rosyth on August 20.

The operation will produce premium quality strawberries throughout the year in a controlled environment using cutting-edge technologies such as climate management (heat and cooling) and LED lighting.

It’s believed to be the first of its kind and size in the UK.

Energrow will also look to open a production facility in the north of Scotland but the company confirmed to the Press their focus is on Rosyth first.

Increasing consumer demand for strawberries over the winter period is currently met by importing produce from Morocco, Egypt, Israel and Spain.

Producing the juicy fruit in a controlled environment will deliver significant competitive advantage, say Energrow, particularly through the ability to supply UK grown produce during the traditional ‘off-season’.

Although strawberries have been selected as the initial product, the company said they could go on to grow products, such as tomatoes, salad leaves and herbs.

Mr McMurtrie told the Press: “Rosyth is a good location for transport, even the local environment is good for creating strawberries.

“It’s something different that is a growing trend in horticulture, homegrown food. It has been in decline over the years so if we can produce local instead of abroad, more people are interested in that.

“We’ve also seen issues with climate change in Spain which caused problems with food supply in the UK. Here we will be producing it in a controlled environment and we can invest in applying better techniques.”

Energrow upscaled their plans to four hectares after it proved easier to get funding for a larger project. If they get planning permission from Fife Council, they should be operating by early 2021.

Rosyth councillor Tony Orton said: “I’m on board with this project, it’s a development for the waterfront but it won’t compete with my wish to have a tourist site there too. The all-year production could be the start of something big in the UK and we are going to benefit from the commercial site.”

Mr Hughes concluded: “It’s such a big move in horticulture and it’s wonderful for the UK. It means we will still have strawberries in the off-season and I don’t think it will have an impact on the traditional industry.

“It will save the UK a lot on imports. It’s such a high tech production and the company are very passionate about it and I believe it will produce beautifully tasting fruit.

“It’s the sort of thing that should be happening all over Britain – it’s reducing our carbon footprint.”