Stoke-on-Trent businesses will soon be heated by geothermal energy 11km under the ground after the city was awarded a £19 million grant.
Councillors have welcomed the Government funding which will kickstart a geothermic heat scheme, called District Heat Network (DHN).
It will provide renewable heat to businesses located in Stoke, Hanley, and Festival Park.
It will be the first geothermic scheme in Staffordshire.
As well as the £19 million Government grant, £28 million will come from private investors, with the council putting in an additional £3.9 million.
The project will involve pumping water into a large hole, which would then travel through an 11km pipe producing hot water at the other side.
Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors say the renewable heat will provide businesses with more jobs and save more than 400 people’s homes from fuel poverty.
Cllr Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprises, said: “This could potentially be the biggest project that has ever been carried out by this council.
“The scheme will be a massive game-changer for the city.
“We have the funding now, and we have received a lot of interest from outside the city.”
Council Leader Mohammed Pervez believes the new scheme will “bring jobs and economic growth to the city”.
He added: “It is important that we accept this generous grant, it will lead to big things for this council.”
But some councillors are not convinced about the scheme.
City Independent Cllr Peter Hayward said he has always had “reservations” about DHN.
“I have no faith in this scheme whatsoever.
“The council is naive if they think the scheme will work.
“The council is basically paying a ridiculous amount of money for an 11km pipe.”
Cabinet Member Cllr Terry Crowe hit back, saying: “It comes as no surprise that Cllr Hayward is not on board with the scheme.
“City independents are always talking down the city, and I’ve had enough of it.”
Labour Cllr Joy Garner supported Cllr Crowe, saying: “If the government didn’t believe this scheme would work, they would of not have given nearly £20 million to the project. ”
She also tweeted: “City Independents are stuck in the past. This scheme is the city’s future.”
All councillors voted to accept the grant apart from two City Independents.