A UK-based group has won preferred bidder status in the race to buy the former ARBRE wood-burning energy plant near Selby, according to a company with a stake in the original project.

Michael Morris, licensing manager at Swedish-based TPS which has a 10% stake in the Yorkshire plant, said the bidder, chosen by liquidators from a shortlist of two, plans to re-open the £30m plant. The group has already met former ARBRE partners, including TPS.

It has been given until the beginning of the New Year to make a detailed offer, Mr Morris added.

Six bids were received in all, most of which were to re-open the plant. ARBRE closed in August with debts of £2m after financial backer Kelda withdrew.

A spokesperson for PricewaterhouseCoopers said: “We have been in very detailed discussions with potential buyers.”