Plans to power Stoke-on-Trent with methane gas approved
Plans to extract methane gas from coal beds to power homes and businesses in Stoke-on-Trent have been approved by the city council.
The council said it was now looking for a private-sector energy company to work with to extract the gas.
It said the scheme would give manufacturers lower energy bills which would encourage investment in the city.
A group of about 20 campaigners opposed to the project held a protest outside the council offices on Thursday.
Council leader Mohammad Pervez said: "We want to direct this gas towards sustaining and attracting new business.
"Currently manufacturers and ceramics businesses are telling us they could be forced to look at options to take production offshore because of the volatility of the price of energy.
"If we can control that we will not only sustain existing businesses but also make this area very attractive for other businesses."
Mr Pervez said it would apply to the government for a licence to drill for the gas once it had found a private sector partner and carried out "extensive testing".
The Gas Free Stoke group held a protest before the council meeting on Thursday.
It said the local authority should be investing in more renewable energy sources.
Sheena Bratt from the group said: "We have friends in Australia who have told us gas drilling has caused environmental and health problems.
"The city council has said it is committed to clean energy, but this is carbon-based fuel and that can never be considered clean energy."