Plans to bring affordable low carbon energy to Solihull town centre got a huge boost last night with planning approval for a new Low Carbon Energy Centre.
CO2 emitted from heating currently accounts for approximately one third of total greenhouse gas emissions. Working with partners, Solihull Council has been developing plans to build a Town Centre Energy Network utilising low carbon and renewable energy. It will distribute heat from a single Energy Centre directly into town centre buildings via a network of underground pipes.
Plans for the Energy Centre building, which will lie at the heart of this network, have now received the green light. The Planning application was unanimously approved last night, marking a major milestone for the scheme which will support the Local Plan and the wider aims of the Council’s Climate Change Prospectus.
Housing a range of renewable and low carbon energy solutions, including Air Source Heat Pumps and Gas Combined Heat and Power, the Energy Centre, sited next to Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, will provide heat and power to nearby public and private sector customers, including Council owned buildings, education campuses and commercial offices.
The striking designs, which were first shared earlier in year as part of a pre-application public consultation, will help to promote the renewable and low carbon technology being used, while ensuring the building itself sits comfortably within the context of the surrounding site and landscape. Materials for the two storey building have been carefully chosen to help it sit in its natural surroundings. The proposals also include plans to install a footpath adjacent to the Energy Centre which will allow passers-by to see how the energy centre is performing as well as improve access to the park.
Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Planning & Housing said:
“It’s fantastic news that we have now secured planning permission for this exciting project. The Energy Centre will be the beating heart of our network and represents an exciting opportunity to offer town centre customers an efficient and affordable alternative energy source while delivering significant carbon savings.
“I think what we have is a bold design, which shows off the technology on display and offers a range of educational opportunities while responding to and complimenting its surroundings.
“We know from our emerging Net Zero Action Plan that 56% of Solihull’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy we use in our buildings. It’s vital that we make rapid progress in addressing this if we are going to achieve our regional net zero carbon emission target by 2041.
“We need to see more tangible, real world solutions like this being taken forward. It shows the residents of Solihull how serious we are about taking the lead on this by backing up our ambitious policy with on the ground actions.”
So far funding for this carbon saving scheme has been provided by the government’s Heat Networks Investment Programme (HNIP) and the West Midlands Combined Authority. The scheme demonstrates the Council’s commitment to using innovative renewable energy solutions by investing in low carbon heat and power and forms part of a wider strategic approach Solihull Council is developing to help decarbonise the borough over the next twenty years.
With planning permission now secured the project can progress to the next stage. The Council is working with its partners to finalise a Full Business Case and appoint a final contractor to build, maintain and operate the network. First phase customers could be hooked up and start benefitting from the network from as early as Spring 2023.
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