TWO key sites including the former McKechnie Jess meat factory are the subject of a £3.5m acquisition aimed at creating hundreds of new jobs.

Inverclyde Council wants to buy the land next to the A8, and the nearby Risk End Quarry, as part of the redevelopment of Inchgreen area.

Local authority chiefs want the prime plots in order to create a marine training and manufacturing facility.

The proposals are part of a revised plan to regenerate Inchgreen, after the initial idea to create a renewable energy hub was killed off by a downturn in the sector.

The new project would be financed by an existing £9.4m pot already allocated to Inverclyde from the UK and Scottish governments as part of the City Deal agreement for Glasgow and its surrounding areas.

If given the go-ahead, the development would create hundreds of high-skilled jobs.

An Inverclyde Council spokesman said today: "The council has created a novel proposal to support the marine industry at Inchgreen. "Our strategic business case will be presented to the city region cabinet on February 12. "It outlines a comprehensive plan to bring the key Inchgreen site back into use through a joint venture aimed at delivering a training facility for the fishing industry, a fishing vessel manufacturing facility, a fish processing plant and a marine manufacturing facility. "The remainder of the site would be used for heavy marine operations. "These plans would involve the strategic acquisition of two sites which would help to unlock the potential for this exciting opportunity for investment and the creation of high value jobs."

The local authority had drawn up plans for the redevelopment of Inchgreen Dry Dock in partnership with owners Peel Ports.

The original renewables hub idea secured City Deal cash but the Tele revealed in July last year that officials had to go back to the drawing board following a downturn in the industry.

Under the new proposals, the former McKechnie Jess site - where the factory burned down in 2017 - and the quarry would be developed to create the new marine training and manufacturing facility along with a section of Inchgreen, although the dry dock itself is not included in the blueprint.

The council hopes the project will spark 'follow-on' private sector investment in the dry dock and create jobs there at a later date.

The plan is to start construction by 2021 at the earliest, and no later than 2023.