Decarbonising Cuckmere Valley

The UK's climate ambitions

The UK has set a target to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by the year 2050. 

One of the most challenging areas to decarbonise is communities who are not connected to the mains gas network. 

These communities typically rely on heating oil and LPG for their heat requirements, both fuel types which produce high levels of carbon dioxide. For this reason oil boilers are expected to be banned in the UK by 2035. Therefore almost all boilers in the Cuckmere Paris community will inevitably need to be replaced so it is best to take advantage of heat pump subsidies whilst they are available.

Housing contributes 36% of carbon emissions in Cuckmere Parish. Our study demonstrates that 38% of these emissions are attributed to heating, which is primarily heating oil.

Figures above taken from IMPACT | Community Carbon Calculator

Furthermore, heating oil and LPG are not subject to the energy price cap, and are vulnerable to the high costs and price swings of global oil and gas markets. As recent geopolitical events have shown it is important for the UK to develop an affordable domestic energy supply in order to secure stability and reliability in the future.

For these reasons, BHESCo want to partner with rural communities in the South East of England to support their transition away from fossil fuels. 

The goal of the project is to accelerate the decarbonisation of Cuckmere Valley Parish, which currently has three times the national average for household carbon emissions.

Following on from successful rural community energy feasibility studies in Shoreham, Crowhurst, and Firle, BHESCo are now working hard to develop a decarbonisation strategy for the villages of Litlington, Lullington, and Westdean.

Project progress since August 2022

What does BHESCo recommend?

BHESCo are proposing two wind turbines to be installed at Rathfinny Wine Estate. The proposed wind turbine mast hub height will be 1 at 30 meters, 1 at 40 meters. Glyndebourne’s turbine has a 67m mast hub height.

Typical recommendations for households include energy efficiency upgrades (roof/ loft insulation, draught-proofing, heating controls, double-glazing, floor insulation) and the installation of an air source heat pump.

BHESCo is discussing with Younity (a joint venture between Co-op Energy and Octopus Energy) as to how the benefit from low-cost renewable energy generated from the wind turbines can be shared with the residents of Cuckmere Parish (exact electricity costs to be determined).

Landscape & Visual Impact Assessment

Next steps - taking a phased approach

1) Submit final report to Rural Community Energy Fund

2) Submit planning application & Environmental Impact Assessment to the South Downs National Park

3) Raise investment for and install 2 x wind turbines at Rathfinny wine estate

4) Rollout improvements energy efficiency of homes

5) Install air source heat pumps

Benefits for the local community

Household case study

Following an energy survey of an archetypal property in the Parish BHESCo made the following conclusions:

Current EPC rating: E

Potential EPC rating: C

Potential carbon reduction: 91%

Potential fuel cost reduction: 61.5%

Questions and feedback

If you would like to speak with a member of out team about this project then you can contact BHESCo in the following ways:


tel: 0800 999 6671

BHESCo are also putting together a Mailing List for members of the local community who wish to stay informed with regular updates about the project. If you would like to be added to the Mailing List please let us know by writing to 

Community presentation - 24th January 2023

Below are the slides from the presentation that was delivered to local residents on 24th January 2023 at Litlington Village Hall. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The recent Heat and Buildings Strategy set out funding of up to £5,000 for the installation of an air source heat pump, and up to £6,000 for the installation of a ground source heat pump starting on 1 April 2022.  

The new £270 million Green Heat Network Fund will support low-carbon technologies like heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy in the roll out of next generation of heat networks which will enable more towns and cities to take up this tried and tested technology.

If a new clean heating system should be installed in your property, your existing boiler will be disconnected as part of the process and left in a safe condition for disposal on your property.

Any opportunities for collective disposal or recycling of the boiler and tank will be discussed and may be pursued.  Should this be of interest, proceeds of any sale will be allocated in agreement with the boiler and tank owner, in addition to the sale of any surplus oil.

Yes, but your internal household systems, such as circulation pumps, will also not run, so you would not be able to benefit from the heat even if the heat network was continuing to run.

This is no different from the current situation, in that if the electricity goes out, your boiler will stop running.

Ideally, as part of the greater energy plan, a strategy will be determined to address the sustainability, reliability and affordability of the electricity provision for the village.

To make the project economically viable we would prefer all residents to participate. This is needed to achieve economies of scale which can then be passed on to all participants of the heat network.

The fewer who participate the less beneficial the programme is to everyone.  The Stage 1 feasibility study aims to determine the minimum number of participants required to make the heat network affordable and preferably attractive to residents.

In the event that BHESCo was to enter into administration, ownership of the energy system and all associated contractual obligations will be passed on to another energy co-operative, in exactly the same way that an energy supplier will take on the customers from a supplier who has entered into administration. As BHESCo is registered with the FCA, in compliance with the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, this is enshrined in our constitution.

ECO grant funding is available to properties with an EPC of E, F, or G. Most ECO work is aimed at homes where the occupier receives some form of means tested benefit.

More information –

A well-insulated home will retain more heat and require less energy.  

Houses with poor energy efficiency may wish to consider making improvements to the thermal insulation of the property before a heat pump is installed.  A home’s ability to retain heat improves its value because the occupant pays less money to achieve a comfortable living environment. 

With this in mind, any changes that need to be made will be determined by the unique energy profile of that property. BHESCo are in the process of gathering this information through on-site heat surveys.