Plans to extract methane gas in Stoke-on-Trent have the support of local businesses. Tony Cotton, Head of Manufacturing at Johnson Tiles, believes methane extraction will help reduce costs and improve gas supply.
Critics of the plans say drilling will increase the risks of water contamination and methane leaks.
We are tapping into a traditional resource for the benefit of the people of Stoke-on-Trent and indeed methane from coal mines has powered industry in the city for decades, so this is nothing new.....
.....The methane here is contained in unused coal mines which contain natural fissures so there is no need to fracture the rocks to get it out. This use of energy provides a stable, local source and it uses less energy than importing gas too....
.....This is only one of a number of technologies we are looking at.
– Councillor Andy Platt, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Member
A spokesperson from campaign group Frack Off has described the extraction of coal bed methane as "as big a deal - if not bigger - than shale gas".
On their website the group describe it as "Shale Gas's less well known but equally destructive sibling in 'the family' of extreme energy methods". Extraction involves drilling into the rock formation containing the gas, sometimes adding stimulation like water or air to obtain the methane.
The group claim the closer proximity to the surface of the drilling increases risk of water contamination and methane leaks.
They say 12 planning applications have been approved in the UK for shale gas extraction, and 70 approved for coal bed methane.
For many years, methane from disused coal mines in and around Stoke-on-Trent has been captured and sold to the market. Preliminary research suggests that there are supplies of gas from un-mined coal - known as coal bed methane - that could also be extracted.
– Councillor Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprise, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
The council claim that local businesses and communities could benefit from locally-sourced energy.
We rely on a consistent and secure supply of energy. Energy costs are a critical factor in our continued growth and the jobs and prosperity we generate for the city. The search for alternative local supplies and the use of coal bed methane would be a massive boost for us.