Start date confirmed for work on new Hebburn Minewater energy project
An innovative scheme using abandoned coal mines to heat council buildings in Hebburn is set to be completed in 2023.
The ‘Hebburn Minewater District Network’ will see geothermal energy drawn from flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery to heat council-owned buildings in the town, including a residential tower block.
The project has preliminary approval for £3.5million funding from the European Regional Development Fund and aims to slash carbon emissions by hundreds of tonnes.
In recent months, South Tyneside Council chiefs have made several key appointments to bring the project forward.
An update on the scheme was revealed at a Hebburn Community Area Forum meeting, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.
A statement read out on behalf of the council’s asset management team said: “Detailed planning for the Hebburn minewater project is continuing and we have made a number of key external contractor appointments over recent months.
“These appointments include the main scheme designer, the borehole designer as well as the project manager, who will lead the project through to completion, which is expected in 2023.
“Council officers are working closely with the appointed project managers to plan out the scheme and associated timescales, we intend to communicate this to all nearby residents in August.
“At the same time, a dedicated website will go live which will provide greater detail on the scheme and also provide residents with the opportunity to contact the project team to ask any specific questions.”
The update came following a question from a member of the public about the programme of works in the area around Durham Court and information on public consultation.
The project will involve drilling vertical boreholes 300-400m into flooded coal mines underground with pilot boreholes used to establish key information which will feed into the main scheme’s design.
Meanwhile, a water source heat pump will extract the heat from the minewater before it is compressed to a higher temperature and distributed to the heat network.
The £7 million scheme, which is being developed in collaboration with the Coal Authority and Durham University, aims to lay the foundations for potential future development and expansion of the network.
An energy centre and pump room are also likely to be located close to the Hebburn Central leisure centre.
Hebburn South councillor, John McCabe, credited the late professor of engineering and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Newcastle University, Hebburn-born Paul Younger, for discussing the idea decades ago.
Cllr McCabe added: “He talked about this project thirty years ago so I think it’s something that is realistically achievable.
“And going forward, it’s going to be an absolutely exciting project which will serve Hebburn very very well.
“I know there are some grey areas that we need to sort out but from an engineering point of view it’s totally feasible and will deliver what it says.”
The scheme is one of several being developed by South Tyneside Council to meet climate change targets for the borough.
Following a climate emergency declaration by full council last year, the council is taking all necessary steps to become carbon neutral by 2030.
For more information on the council’s efforts to slash carbon emissions, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/69717/Climate-change-strategy-and-action-plan