Borehole plan could be hot stuff

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DEVELOPERS are looking into the possibility of using hot water from more than a mile beneath the earth’s surface to heat a proposed housing estate.

Northumberland Estates is hoping to get the go-ahead to build 450 homes at Scaffold Hill at Holystone.

If it does, it proposes using energy from a deep geothermal borehole at the site to provide cheaper and greener heat for the estate.

Earlier this year, scientists at Newcastle University drilled a borehole almost 2,000m deep at the former Newcastle Breweries site, now known as Science City, to pump hot water to the surface to heat buildings nearby.

And Paul Younger, director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, said the benefits of geothermal energy could spread beyond the city centre.

“One of the best places for this is North Tyneside, where the fault goes through the Shiremoor and Backworth area and comes out on the coast at Cullercoats,” he said.

“It is a prime area for this resource, and there is no less carbon-intensive resource than geothermal energy.

“In fact it, was the Shiremoor area which gave us the idea to drill in Newcastle.

“Miners at Eccles Pit, Backworth Colliery and the Rising Sun Colliery encountered water that was warm to touch and it had a chemistry which told us the water had been at higher temperatures previously.”

The project has sparked protests from residents, however, worried that green space would be lost.

Keith Page, of the Holystone Action Group set up to oppose the development, said: “They want to destroy a wildlife corridor and claim they are being green, but it just does not wash.

“It is all gloss and window dressing, and the reality would be nothing like it.

“These proposals do not take away from the fact they are destroying wildlife corridors.”