Hebburn Minewater Project pressing ahead: Scheme aims to use flooded mines to heat homes

An innovative green scheme using water in old mine shafts to heat council buildings is progressing at pace, project bosses have said.

By Chris Binding
Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:59 pm
Water in a flooded deep mine. A scheme to harness heat from minewater is being developed in Hebburn, and a second is now on its way for South Shields
Water in a flooded deep mine. A scheme to harness heat from minewater is being developed in Hebburn, and a second is now on its way for South Shields

The ‘Hebburn Minewater Project’ is one of South Tyneside Council’s flagship schemes aiming to slash carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.

This includes drawing geothermal energy from flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery and distributing it via a pipe network to heat several council-owned buildings in the town.

Following planning approval,the first stage of work started in June and involves boreholes being drilled into the flooded coal mines underground.

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Durham Court, Hebburn, is one of the buildings which will be heated by the scheme

Signage advising residents that the nearby shopping precinct is open has been erected, with site hoardings also displaying bulletins providing information about the project.

Meanwhile, a separate planning application for an energy centre and pipe network for the scheme was submitted to South Tyneside Council’s planning department last month.

Councillors were given a progress update on the scheme at a meeting of Hebburn Community Area Forum (CAF) at Jarrow Focus.

Phil Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s acting senior manager of asset management, said the drilling works were likely to be fully completed by the end of November 2021.

This would allow the council to meet the wider project deadlines regarding the proposed energy centre and the laying of pipework to various buildings.

Councillors heard there had been interest from contractors for the energy centre and associated works, with final approval of a suitable contractor expected later in 2021.

And if planning permission is granted for the energy centre and pipe network, works could commence later this year, with the project expected to be operational in early 2023.

The proposed energy centre is planned for land near Durham Court, on the site of the former Roadhouse pub.

Proposals included naming the energy centre after the late professor, who championed the use of the technology behind the minewater scheme decades ago.

At this week’s CAF meeting, Hebburn South member and retired mining engineer, Cllr John McCabe, asked for clarity on proposals to name the centre after Professor Younger.

Council officer Phil Dixon responded: “That’s our plan so far, it has got that name Paul Younger Energy Centre written on there.

“So that’s certainly the intention.”

The Hebburn Minewater Project, which has secured around £3.9million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund, is being developed in collaboration with the Coal Authority and Durham University.

A similar scheme is being pursued in the Holborn area of South Shields.

A planned district heating scheme there is expected to save 2,436 tonnes of carbon a year, heating council buildings as well as potential the police station and court.

The £23million project would use a combination of technologies, harnessing heat from abandoned flooded mines, as well as from the River Tyne.

:: A dedicated page has also been set up on South Tyneside Council’s website where updates are posted on the scheme’s progess.

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