Community renewable energy project backed by county council wins £2million grant

Heating Swaffham Prior logo

A community renewable energy project has been awarded a £2.146million grant to provide sustainable heating to homes in Swaffham Prior, East Cambridgeshire.

The Heating Swaffham Prior project, which Cambridgeshire County Council is developing with Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust, will help the village move away from using oil for heating and hot water. Instead, heat extracted from the ground and air will be used, saving thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions over the project’s lifetime.

The grant was awarded by the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) which is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The community heat project has been under development since 2017, driven forward by Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust and Cambridgeshire County Council.

The aim of the scheme is to allow all households to make the ‘green choice’ by replacing their existing often large, floor, oil boilers with a smaller wall mounted heat exchanger and removing their oil tanks from their gardens.

The planning application for the project was submitted last week (Friday, 17th July). If successful, 130, 200m deep boreholes will be drilled into the ground to extract heat which will be distributed to homes across the village via a series of pipes called a heat network.

A large air source heat pump will supplement the energy extracted from the ground and solar panels will also provide renewable electricity to run the heat pumps at the energy centre.

Of the 300 households within the village, 166 have expressed their interest in joining the renewable heating network from the start. It is hoped that over time the whole village will choose to connect to use the system.

The project has been supported by funding from Cambridgeshire County Council and the Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU), which is part of BEIS. The grant funding just received from HNIP will contribute £1.79 million to the construction of the heat network and the balance will be used to set up the contracting arrangements for the project. The county council could invest up to £5.2million into the project, and this decision will be taken in late autumn once all the legal and financing arrangements are clear. If approved, construction could begin late this year and continue throughout 2021. To find out more about the outline business case click here.

Cllr Joshua Schumann, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee, 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 energy for 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.”

To find out more about the Heating Swaffham Prior project visit or


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Cambridgeshire County Council