A COUNTY Durham businessman hopes to refloat plans for groundbreaking amphibious vehicles.

David Royle's dream to launch a range of craft equally at home on the road as in water appeared sunk in 2009 when he was forced to close his starter factory and vintage car restoration business through lack of funding.

Mr Royle, 73, of Gainford, near Barnard Castle, designed and developed a range of advanced amphibious vehicles, including a 25-seater Jetbus, with the help of a skilled team of engineers at his workshops in Staindrop.

He is now attempting to raise an initial £200,000, which he says is needed to get the project back up and running.

It took 17 years and thousands of hours of research and development work to produce prototypes of the high speed amphibious vehicles, which Mr Royle believes are the first of their kind in the world.

“With increasing and widespread flooding, overcrowded roads and all the disused waterways, I believe there is still great potential for these dual purpose vehicles and I believe this is a huge opportunity,” he said.

“The only amphibious vehicles around the world today are still using technology developed more than 60 years ago for the Second World War, when trucks were converted to make them float.”

He added: “I am talking about a completely new industry with new technology and new principles of design and engineering.”

His vehicles were featured on BBC and ITV programmes, including the business magazine show Working Lunch, to appeal to would-be backers at a time when the craft had attracted potential orders worth tens of millions of pounds.

However, although Mr Royle's prototypes proved the technology was successful and worked well, he was unable to secure sufficient finding to take the project into full production. Since then, the vehicles have stood idle.

“I still believe the market for amphibious vehicles could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year,” said Mr Royle.

Mr Royle said if he could raise £200,000, it would enable him to revive the project and finish the certification process necessary before setting up a factory to produce the vehicles.

He is currently investigating various possible funding avenues, such as the Government office, Business Durham and the banks to prepare for and fund production.

Mr Royle is also keen to hear from serious potential investors and influential people who could act as champions for the project. Interested parties can contact him on 01325-730084.