The identity of the shortlisted companies in the contest to develop a new tourist attraction at the 1,000-acre forest has been published, offering the first clues as to the area's future use.
The shortlist is as follows:
M Sport: The spectacle of a racing track would fill the forest if picked. Based in Dovenby, Cumbria, M Sport is the company behind the Ford's World Rally programme. It was founded by Malcom Wilson, former rally driver, in 1979.
Esh Group: Based in Bowburn, County Durham, past work includes the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. Esh plans a mix of housing, leisure and commercial development.
UK Coal, in which shareholder Peel Group is a key player, already owns 300 acres next to the site. UK Coal and Peel plan hotels, two golf courses and academy, 300 homes, 500 holiday homes, and an extreme sport centre also feature.
Keir/Kingmoor Park Properties. The consortium plans a leisure, education and tourism destination. They say surface mining first will pay for the development, removing the need for public subsidy.
Derwent Forest Developments: Carlisle-based Nigel Catterson is part of a consortium that plans to create Utropia, an education centre focused on environment and sustainability courses for schools, colleges and universities.
The contest to develop the former Ministry of Defence site is being run and funded by Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Council, the North West Development Agency, all advised by DTZ.