Cheshire East Council has approved to undertake a feasibility study into the potential of geothermal energy deep beneath the ground.
Independent studies show parts of the borough are sitting on more than enough natural energy supplies to heat every home in Cheshire East for centuries to come - and now Cheshire East Council is looking into its potential.
The natural energy source, used widely in parts of Europe, Japan, America and Thailand, is green, clean and cheap and has been found in abundance in Crewe following studies by consultants on behalf of the Renewable Energy Association.
Crewe is identified as one of just six sites across the whole country which can deliver truly renewable heat and power (Source: Geothermal Energy Potential in Great Britain and Northern Ireland - May 2012 Sinclair Knight Merz).
The rare discovery of this energy find provides the potential to drive down local energy prices, create a self-sufficient energy supply and cut down on Co2 emissions to help improve the environment.
At today’s Cabinet meeting (July 22) it was welcomed by members to begin work to investigate the potential for deep geothermal energy generation at a site at Leighton West in Crewe, a decision which will place Cheshire East at the forefront of the growth of geothermal energy in the UK.
The opportunity at Leighton was identified through extensive background research undertaken by the Council with support from consultants late last year.
The research looked at sites owned by the Council where massive opportunities for deep geothermal heat and power could be unlocked.
Leader of Cheshire East Council Councillor Michael Jones said: “Cheshire East Council is placing itself at the forefront of renewable energy options by exploring the potential for our borough to be its own energy provider.
“The potential to drive down local energy prices is a big step forward and will make us one of a handful of places in the whole country with this potential.
“Cheshire East Council is an innovative and ambitious authority and we would be ignoring an important step forward for energy in this country if we were to dismiss this potential for self sufficiency.
“This feasibility study will take the first major steps towards exploring how we can begin extracting this natural source of energy from the earth’s crust and used first by the Romans.
“It will place Cheshire East at the forefront of renewable energy innovations, simply because we have the natural resources to achieve a massive reduction in Co2 emissions.
“Throughout this process we will be working closely with local people to hear their views and we promise that no work will be undertaken without a full public consultation.
“Cheshire East is committed to driving innovation and ambitious projects for our communities and so we feel it is right to begin the process of how we can exploit this natural resource so that we can present the facts. This rare resource in the Cheshire Basin is of national importance.
“Looking into the future, if the supplies are what we think they are, it has the potential to kick-start a whole new industry in Cheshire East, creating more jobs and wealth than we could imagine. We as a Council are determined to tackle fuel poverty and this is a positive step in that direction.
An independent study will now be commissioned to report on both the suitability of the site and how the extraction could take place.
Following the findings of the study and confirmation of this potential the Council will then look to work with the public and private sector to bring forward a scheme which will include seeking planning permission and a public consultation as part of that process.