A water company is continuing to lead the way in innovation with the launch of a Skyship 600 series solely powered by gases extracted from customers′ poo - a world first.

Northumbrian Water, who provide water and waste services to 2.7 million customers in the North East, and water services to 1.8 million customers in Essex and Suffolk, will use the green energy aircraft across their operating areas to monitor and protect rivers, helping to achieve the company′s ambition of having the best rivers in the UK.


The poo-powered airship is expected to set off on its journey this week, starting in the North East making its way down to Essex and Suffolk.


The skyship will then travel around areas of the UK to showcase its leading technology to other water companies before making the journey back to the North East, where it is expected to start regular sky patrols across its operating areas using its advanced pollution detectors. The automatic detectors will help identify potential pollution threats at the earliest opportunity so any issues can be dealt with quickly.


This latest industry innovation will support the efforts of the company′s volunteer Water Rangers who help to protect 56 of the North East′s waterways and will contribute to the company′s already industry leading pollution performance.


Introduced in the late 1980s, the skyship 600 series was launched originally to raise customer awareness and celebrate the merging of all the North East water authorities forming as Northumbrian Water Group Plc.


Over the last 18 months it has undergone refurbishment at Northumbrian Water′s pioneering plants on Tyneside and in Teesside, where the company have the ‘Power from poo′ production, more formally known as Thermal Hydrolysis Advanced Anaerobic Digestion (AAD).


Northumbrian Water′s Wastewater Director, Richard Warneford, said: "This innovative skyship is helping us to protect the environment. Our customers can be reassured that we′re doing all we can to use the waste they flush down the toilet as a fuel and turn it into renewable energy, which can then be used to light their homes, cook meals and now we can use it to power the skyship.


"We′re proud to be able to produce gas and electricity with more than 20% of our total power now from our own renewable energy sources, including hydropower at our treatment works and reservoirs like Kielder Water. 


"Innovation is at the heart of everything we do here at Northumbrian Water Group and we are proud to be leading in this innovative approach to waste management."