‘We could be the next Aberdeen’ – underground gas could make South Tyneside an energy boom town, says politician

Coun John McCabe.
Coun John McCabe.

A South Tyneside councillor says the Government should “seize the opportunity” to drill for underground coal gas in the borough.

Coun John McCabe, a Labour representative for the Hebburn South ward, says it is now possible to drill the vast reserves of offshore coal in an environmentally-friendly way.

The scientific research has been done and a new way to gasify the coal has been developed. It would be entirely environmentally-friendly.

Coun John McCabe

He says using underground coal gasification would create a number of jobs in the North East energy sector.

At the North East Economic Forum at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, he put his point of view to Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle.

He said: “We need a long-term energy strategy and all governments have not address this issue. This is why we are seeing a rush to back nuclear now.

“Depending on what scientific research you look at, there is around 200 to 300 years of energy supply offshore.”

Coal from under the floor of the North Sea was once the mainstay of the Durham and Northumberland coalfield.

“We now have the knowledge to mine in a different way, and the amount of energy that is offshore at Sunderland and South Tyneside could see us become the next Aberdeen.”

The Scottish city became known as ‘the oil capital of Europe’ when huge amounts of oil were discovered in the North Sea in the 1970s.

Coun McCabe, a mining engineer, told the Gazette: “I went along to the Forum to listen to what was being said and give my input if I felt I should.

“I thought this was the right forum to put forward this idea.

“There’s a long-term energy strategy needed and that’s why we’re seeing this rush back to nuclear.

“The scientific research has been done and a new way to gasify the coal has been developed. It would be entirely environmentally-friendly.”

He added: “The energy that’s required to run the country is absolutely phenomenal and people have no idea how much it takes.

“We’re an island and we need to be self-sufficient and should be generating our own energy.

“This would be a huge economic boost for South Tyneside. Look at the oil industry and Aberdeen. Overnight it went from being a granite place in the North that no one had heard of to the place that it is today.

“Every day the technology is advancing and now is the best time for the Government to do this.”