HEAT generated by a North- East crematorium could be fed back into the National Grid to provide electricity.

Durham Crematorium is investigating the possibility of installing turbines in two of its new furnaces to use the heat generated from cremations to produce electricity, and use the third to heat its chapel and offices.

It is thought the turbines would generate sufficient electricity to power 1,500 television sets.

Three new furnaces are being installed at the crematorium in South Road, Durham City, which is run by Durham County Council, as part of a project worth £2.3m.

If the proposal to generate electricity was given the goahead, the crematorium would become the first in the UK to carry out the process.

Alan Jose, superintendent and registrar at the crematorium, stressed that the facility did not want to cause any distress to people or become known as a power station.

He said: “We will have far more electricity than we can possibly need so we would be feeding a reasonable amount into the grid.

“If there is genuine spare capacity to generate electricity, then we were certainly interested in investigating that.

“If it was thought to be acceptable in the eyes of the public we would almost certainly pursue that.

“Apart from it being common sense for us to try and conserve energy, it also enables us to keep fees down.”

The proposal was included in the planning application submitted to the county council’s planning committee in March, when permission was granted for the first phase of the project.

The document stated: “To off-set the high gas consumption of the cremators, a heat recovery system will help provide heating within the building.

“Further uses for heat generated, including the generation of electricity to be sold to the National Grid, will be explored in the future.”

The improvement work at the 50-year-old crematorium, which is operating at five times its original rate, is being carried out in two phases, allowing it to stay open during the switch-over.

The project was the result of a change in the law, meaning mercury must be removed from crematorium emissions by January.