Irish bioenergy firm Bioverda has bought a ‘significant stake’ in Tees Valley Biofuels, the company behind plans to build a £47m processing facility near Middlesbrough.

Bioverda now owns more than 50% of UK biofuel firm, who had been looking for investors for its facility at Seals Sands for the past year.

Construction is yet to begin on the plant, which will require 500,000 tonnes of locally-sourced rape seed, despite being granted planning permission last September.

Tees Valley Biofuels had predicted the plant would be on line by 2008, but Bioverda said it now expected the plant to be operational by 2009.

A spokesperson for Tees Valley Biofuels said the hold-up had been due to the company looking for “exactly the right partner”.

“There has been a delay, but we see Bioverda as being the best partner to help in the long term.”

Anthony Doherty, Bioverda’s development director, said the company was “delighted” to enter the UK bioenergy market.

“We see the UK as a key market and we will continue to look at other opportunities in future,” he added.