A MULTI-billion pound green energy industry promising to create and protect thousands of jobs is being born in the North-East, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Speaking exclusively to this newspaper, Newcastle-based energy firm Five Quarter has unveiled a grand vision to harvest “green energy” from vast coal reserves buried deep under a huge swathe of the North Sea stretching from Sunderland to the Scottish border and miles out to sea.

The Government has agreed to be the final guarantor of the £1bn scheme, raising the prospect of 500 jobs at a new-build gas plant, hundreds more at a clean power plant and thousands more in the supply chain – as well as providing a major boost for Teesside’s petrochemical industries.

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Campaign group Frack Off have linked Five Quarter’s new gas extraction method, known as Deep Gas Winning, to fracking and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), raising fears of underground explosions and water contamination.

But Five Quarter CEO and chairman Harry Bradbury said the company wanted to proceed in an environmentally sound manner.

“We are from the North-East. We know the region. We hope this will play a significant role in the economic redevelopment of the North-East,” he said.