New heat network to cut down emissions from Worthing's public buildings

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Worthing Borough Council has agreed to invest just shy of £7.5m into its long-awaited Heat Network.

The sum – which will be part-funded by grant money and part-funded by borrowing – was approved during a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (April 18).

The network, which will be designed, built, operated and maintained by Pinnacle Power, will use air source heat pumps to generate renewable energy.

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Earlier plans to harness power from the town’s sewers were dropped due to the cost.

Worthing Town HallWorthing Town Hall
Worthing Town Hall

The first buildings to be connected to the network will be the town hall, the Assembly Hall, Portland House, the Museum and the Connaught Theatre.

An energy centre will be built at the multi-storey car park in the High Street, pumping heat to the buildings via insulated underground pipes.

If all goes as planned, the network should be up and running in 2025.

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Leader Beccy Cooper said: “The council has declared a climate emergency and has committed to becoming net zero in its operations and buildings by 2030.

“The Worthing Heat Network was initiated by the previous administration and is the cornerstone of the programme to make the civic buildings carbon neutral by 2030 at the latest.”

She added: “It is hoped that its success will motivate other consumers to join the network in the future.

“This will contribute hugely to the reduction of global warming gases and better air quality throughout the town.”

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Opposition leader Kevin Jenkins (Con, Goring) described the scheme as ‘groundbreaking work’, adding that he hoped the second phase would go ahead and that Worthing Hospital would be added to the network.

To make the scheme worthwhile, money will have to be spent making the buildings more energy efficient.

Helen Silman, cabinet member for climate emergency, said: “The Heat Network costs will not be cheaper than gas.

“What it does is offer us less carbon – it doesn’t offer us a lower price – so we want to use much less of it.

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“Therefore we have to make our buildings much more efficient.”

The capital programme budget will be amended to the tune of £7,454,490.

Just under £2.5m will come from a successful bid to the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, while a further £5m will come from prudential borrowing.