Update February 2021

Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo) have been designing a low carbon, renewable district heating system for village residents living on the Firle Estate. Our intention was to construct the first community owned system in the country delivering affordable, clean heat to replace the existing oil heating system currently in operation.

Here are several recent developments for your information as we progress into 2021:

The scope of the heat network has been reduced at the request of the Trustees of the Firle Estate.  They have selected seven properties in the area designated by BHESCo as Zones B&C for the community heating scheme. 

Whilst it is unfortunate that we cannot include all the participants who have expressed an interest in the project, as was our preference, we accept the limitations imposed by our commitment to a “fabric first” approach to deliver comfort and affordability for residents.  We are grateful for the opportunity to decarbonise some of the properties in the village and to demonstrate the benefits of the renewable heating system that we have worked so hard to create for residents.

We are busy revising the investment required, calculating the revised heating price so that we may review the Heat Supply Agreements with the residents of the seven households participating in the network.

Further to the above point, all work on Zone A has been suspended, as without the firm commitment of the Trustees of the Estate, BHESCo can no longer justify expending the resources required to develop this phase of the project.

We are working with UK Power Networks (UKPN) to finalise their analysis of the reinforcement upgrades necessary to support the increased electricity demand that will result from the introduction of ground source heat pumps on their low voltage network.  Residents of Firle will be familiar with consistent power outages on their electricity network. 

UKPN have recently issued a funding opportunity for ‘’shovel-ready’’ low-carbon heat projects, for which we intend to apply for on behalf of the village residents in the expectation of future action to reduce carbon emissions from heating and transport.

The registration of the planning application is under way, with revised documents submitted to South Downs National Park. We have applied for planning permission for the borehole areas, and trenching works. The installation of the enclosures and pumps on private property (excluding Listed Buildings) constitutes Permitted Development.

In conclusion, whilst we are disappointed that the scope of our Firle Village Heating project has been substantially reduced, we remain optimistic that we can resume our work should the opportunity and the requisite subsidy scheme be presented in the future.

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