Energy minister is fired up by visit to Swaffham Prior’s zero-carbon heating project
The energy minister has given his backing to the innovative project that will make Swaffham Prior the UK’s first village to switch off its oil supply and move to a retrofitted zero-carbon heating system.
Lord Callanan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited with South East Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Lucy Frazer to learn about progress on the £11.9million scheme.
Since the village is not on the gas grid, 70 per cent of its 300 residents rely on oil for heating and hot water in their homes, with some using electricity instead.
Cambridgeshire County Council and the Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust are working with technical partner Bouygues Energies & Services to enable a move away from oil, a carbon-intensive fossil fuel that also contributes to local air pollution, and makes the village more vulnerable to rising oil prices.
Lord Callanan and Ms Frazer visited the energy centre site, on land next to Goodwin Farm off Heath Road, where ground source and air source heat pumps are being installed to pump heat to homes in the village that make the switch - so far, 124 households have signed up.
The first homes are due to be connected this autumn.
Lord Callanan said: “By driving forward new low-carbon technologies like heat networks to warm homes, we can shield households from costly fossil fuels.
“This innovative, community-led project is breaking new ground and helping hundreds of families in Swaffham Prior with their bills, while showcasing the perks of clean energy to the rest of the country.”
The county council says the project will help to end fuel poverty.
Cllr Lorna Dupré (Lib Dem, Sutton), the environment and green investment committee chair, said: “This project was envisioned by local residents and is the first of its kind in the country. We are leading the way in Cambridgeshire and for the UK.
“I am pleased we were able to talk to Lord Callanan and Lucy Frazer MP about the project and show them the works taking place to decarbonise heating in this small village. This scheme aims not only to reduce carbon emissions, but also to support residents against rising fuel bills.
“The county council’s joint administration has big ambitions for the county to achieve net zero carbon by 2045. We can only do that with our communities, and working in partnership to decarbonise a village like Swaffham Prior will be a template for others to follow.”
Ms Frazer added: “Cambridgeshire is leading the way with this community project to bring renewable energy to hundreds of homes across the village of Swaffham Prior. This innovative scheme could be a trailblazer for similar projects across the country as we increase our domestic energy security.
“I was pleased to be able to support the project to access government funding.”
David Carr, CEO of Bouygues Energies & Services, said: “This was not only a great opportunity to highlight the system and technical aspects that make this scheme so unique, but also the fantastic work our team are doing.”