Swaffham Prior awarded £3.2m funding in first community renewable heating project


01-06-2021

Cambridgeshire County Council has been awarded more than £3.2 million of Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) funding for a community heat network in the village of Swaffham Prior.

In 2018, the Council had been approached by the Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust (a group comprised of residents motivated to provide affordable housing in the village) to collaborate on this community heat scheme. Together, the partnership applied for grant support from the Heat Network Delivery Unit within BEIS and has now been awarded commercialisation and construction funding through HNIP.

The funding will help the 300-strong village to transition from oil to low carbon heating and is thought to be the first project of its kind to actively collaborate with members of the local community to deliver a village wide scheme.

Sheryl French, Programme Director, Climate Change and Energy Investment said: “This is a fantastic project and a first of its kind that we know of in the country. Retrofitting a whole village is a challenge but the Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust has been a great partner driving the project forward. Securing the funding is a huge step in creating accessible renewable heat for oil dependent homes in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to tackling climate change and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued success of this project.”

In May 2019, Cambridgeshire County Council declared a Climate Emergency. It is estimated 10,000 homes plus businesses such as pubs, shops and schools are dependent on oil across villages in Cambridgeshire. This dependency brings challenges such as price volatility, energy security, fuel poverty, local air pollution, health and a high carbon footprint. Shifting from oil to renewables is more than an environmental benefit - it brings economic, social and health benefits.

Led by a community with a common goal for change, the scheme will provide a blueprint model which can be refined and replicated by other communities across the UK.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility, said: “As a result of £3.2 million government funding, hundreds of residents in Swaffham Prior will reap the benefits of having heating and hot water that doesn’t cost the earth, while helping to inspire communities across the UK to come together to tackle climate change and build back greener.

“It’s great to see government working together with the local community on this innovative project as part of our plans to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.”

The proposed heat network will use a hybrid solution, combining a Ground Source Heat Pump and Air Source Heat Pump to provide zero carbon heating to homes within the village. Construction will consist of drilling130 boreholes into the ground to a depth of around 200m to extract heat. The Ground Source Heat Pump will be supplemented by an Air Source Heat Pump and both will be powered by solar panels.

Ken Hunnisett, Project Director at Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management said: “This project is particularly exciting and is an exemplar approach of decarbonising an off-grid rural village. Not only does it utilise a range of low carbon technologies to provide heating and hot water to homes currently dependent on high carbon fossil fuels, but it has provided an object lesson in stakeholder engagement and has further galvanised an already impressively tight-knit community. It highlights the desire from the public to move to cleaner heating solutions and is an excellent example of how heat networks can be used to decarbonise whole communities quickly. We’d love to see similar community schemes developed elsewhere.”

The Heat Networks Investment Project is investing up to £320m of support to individual projects across England and Wales and is open for applications.

About the scheme

Cambridgeshire County Council, Swaffham Prior: £3,268,000 commercialisation and construction grant

The community heat network at Swaffham Prior represents an important strategic investment for Cambridgeshire County Council. The community identified land that the Council owns on the edge of the village that could host an energy centre and proposed a community scale ground source heat pump and district heating network as a solution for the village. Combining air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and solar PV to deliver a low carbon solution for the whole village, this project will support local and national decarbonisation objectives. Construction should commence this summer and the first homes will be connected by March 2022. 

Further information about the Swaffham Prior scheme

 

Cambridgeshire County Council has a track record of high achievement and a reputation for continuous performance improvements across all its services.

Cambridgeshire County Council