News  ⁄  Climate & environment

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

Local councils are investing up to £7.3 million in a £23 million project to supply a development of 2500 homes with heat which depends on the Marsh Barton waste incinerator, Exeter's largest single source of carbon emissions.

Exeter energy recovery facility

Exeter energy recovery facility. Image: Exeter City Council.

Exeter city council   Teignbridge district council   Devon county council   South west exeter   Marsh barton   Net zero exeter   Devon carbon plan  

Exeter City Council, Teignbridge District Council and Devon County Council have agreed to help fund a project to supply the new South West Exeter development with heat generated by the Marsh Barton waste incinerator.

The scheme is not currently commercially viable because of the need for substantial upfront capital investment and uncertain rates of return, so the councils have agreed to support it with £7.3 million of funding in the form of grants and loans. The funding is expected to come from developer contributions, including the Community Infrastructure Levy. An advance payment of £50,000 will be made available for preliminary infrastructure works to take place.

The incinerator is Exeter’s largest single source of carbon emissions, burning 60,000 tonnes of waste each year. The £45 million plant, which is run in partnership with Devon County Council, currently generates electricity to power the equivalent of more than 6,600 homes. It opened in 2014 and is expected to remain in use until 2050.

The new district heating network will distribute heat generated by burning rubbish to nearby residential and commercial properties through a system of insulated pipes. The heat can be used for both space and water heating, although a dedicated gas boiler energy centre will be required to top it up. This will consume nearly 5000MWh of natural gas each year once the system is fully operational.

Viridor, the plant’s operator, says export of heat from the facility is around five times more energy efficient than its electricity generation. It will have the capacity to heat new homes and commercial buildings at Marsh Barton as well as those planned as part of the South West Exeter development.

The councils say that the network would reduce carbon emissions from the proposed new homes by up to 2,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, compared with every home instead using gas-fired domestic boilers. This figure does not, however, account for the carbon emissions generated by the waste incinerator, which were over 29,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year in 2017 according to a University of Exeter study.

No consideration appears to have been given to the possibility of other sources of heat being used to supply the network in future, apparently committing the city to high impact waste incineration for another thirty years. A wide range of heat sources are used to power the thousands of such heating networks in use around the world, many of which are truly low or zero carbon. These include geothermal and solar energy and heat pumps in a variety of configurations. Denmark is expected to use renewable sources for all its energy by 2050.

South West Exeter development location map

South West Exeter development map. Source: Devon County Council.

The South West Exeter development of 2500 new homes on the Teignbridge edge of Exeter will be larger than Exminster. It is presented as an extension of Exeter’s suburbs, although 80% of the new homes will come under the jurisdiction of Teignbridge District Council. It will include a school for 1400 pupils, shops and community facilities.

The 90 hectare site, which stretches from Alphington to the M5 with the A379 dividing it in two, is expensive to develop because of its steep topography, existing road layout and proximity to the environmentally important Exe Estuary. 21.5 hectares are allocated as employment land at nearby Peamore.

Devon County Council received £55.1 million from the national Housing Infrastructure Fund in February 2019 to pay for new roads and junctions, upgrades to roads, a pedestrian/cycle bridge to cross the A379, a public park and community building and a new electricity substation to help enable site development.

The funding is provided as a grant to the county council, which is allowed to reclaim the cost of providing the infrastructure from developers as the housing is built. Once funding is recovered, the county council can use it to support further development sites.


 is editor of Exeter Observer and a member and director of its publisher Exeter Observer Ltd.

 


Recent stories
Exeter the musical promo poster

Council announces plan to produce "Exeter the Musical" at city's Corn Exchange

Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Empty retail units at The Depot Purpose Built Student Accommodation block on Cheeke Street in Exeter

Developer plans to convert retail units in Exeter city centre block to additional student bedrooms

Train at Okehampton Station in 2015

Okehampton to Exeter "Dartmoor Line" passenger rail service reinstatement confirmed

Atmospheric rise in carbon dioxide from the industrial revolution to the present

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 now 50% above pre-industrial levels

Maclaines Warehouses beside Exeter ship canal

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

More News
Empty retail units at The Depot Purpose Built Student Accommodation block on Cheeke Street in Exeter

Developer plans to convert retail units in Exeter city centre block to additional student bedrooms

Conversion of five of eleven shop/leisure units at The Depot on Cheeke Street would add nineteen rooms to existing 715 bedrooms in monolithic PBSA.

Train at Okehampton Station in 2015

Okehampton to Exeter "Dartmoor Line" passenger rail service reinstatement confirmed

£40 million Department for Transport "Restoring your Railway" funding to enable trains every two hours by end of this year, with plans to increase to hourly service during 2022. Stakeholders combine to get South West infrastructure needs onto Whitehall agenda.

Atmospheric rise in carbon dioxide from the industrial revolution to the present

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 now 50% above pre-industrial levels

Met Office says 2021 will be first year on record in which symbolic threshold breached for more than a few days as UK prepares to host COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

All News
More Climate & Environment
Atmospheric rise in carbon dioxide from the industrial revolution to the present

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 now 50% above pre-industrial levels

Met Office says 2021 will be first year on record in which symbolic threshold breached for more than a few days as UK prepares to host COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Devon County Council local authority pension fund fossil fuel investment bar chart

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

£157 million of Devon Local Government Pension Scheme is invested in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP, Anglo American and ExxonMobil despite local authority climate emergency declarations and carbon reduction commitments.

Climate change mitigation challenges infographic

University research consortium launches "Accelerate to Net Zero" project

The GW4 Alliance of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities has launched a collaborative project aimed at accelerating decarbonisation across South West England and Wales.

All Climate & Environment

Support Exeter Observer

Analysis
Maclaines Warehouses beside Exeter ship canal

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

Decisions taken behind closed doors in favour of commercial interests threaten maritime and waterway heritage vision for Exeter’s historic quay, canal and canal basin.

Exeter Guildhall needs repairs

£37.5 million council maintenance backlog caused by underinvestment to be part-funded by asset sales

Exeter City Council has allowed property assets to deteriorate while prioritising new schemes including the £44 million St Sidwell's Point leisure centre, forcing it to identify assets for sale to pay its outstanding repair bills.

Exeter City Council offices on Paris Street

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

Exeter City Council has responded to an enquiry about disproportionate Church of England representation on the Liveable Exeter Place Board by accusing Exeter Observer of promoting a "partisan narrative" and claiming our public interest reporting "bears no resemblance to fact".

All Analysis
Comment
Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

Exeter City Futures Blueprint for a Carbon Neutral Exeter by 2030 graphic

Is Exeter finally responding to the climate emergency?

A surge of activity about action to combat climate change is taking place in Exeter, including the publication of a carbon neutral blueprint pending a "mobilisation summit", but detail and evidence is still missing and community engagement is falling short of debate.

Exeter anti-government protest Devon for Europe speaker

Exeter protest misses its mark by mixing its messages

One of Exeter's biggest ever street demonstrations combined anti-Brexit and pro-democracy concerns to produce a confused protest against government policy.

All Comment
Transport & Mobility
Train at Okehampton Station in 2015

Okehampton to Exeter "Dartmoor Line" passenger rail service reinstatement confirmed

£40 million Department for Transport "Restoring your Railway" funding to enable trains every two hours by end of this year, with plans to increase to hourly service during 2022. Stakeholders combine to get South West infrastructure needs onto Whitehall agenda.

Pedestrians and people waiting at bus stop on Exeter Cowick Street

Council abandons temporary COVID-19 cycling and walking safety plans in Exeter city centre

Devon County Council cites "pushback" from traders as schemes on North Street, South Street, Fore Street and Cowick Street are scrapped. Meanwhile temporary changes in Topsham are dropped after "snap poll".

Cyclists, pedestrians and cars compete for space on Union Road, Exeter, 1 June 2020

Devon County Council fails to deliver promised COVID-19 cycling and walking infrastructure

Deadline for action on social distancing for safe travel set by county cabinet member passes despite Devon receiving £1.7 million share of government emergency fund.

All Transport & Mobility
Planning & Place
Empty retail units at The Depot Purpose Built Student Accommodation block on Cheeke Street in Exeter

Developer plans to convert retail units in Exeter city centre block to additional student bedrooms

Conversion of five of eleven shop/leisure units at The Depot on Cheeke Street would add nineteen rooms to existing 715 bedrooms in monolithic PBSA.

Maclaines Warehouses beside Exeter ship canal

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

Decisions taken behind closed doors in favour of commercial interests threaten maritime and waterway heritage vision for Exeter’s historic quay, canal and canal basin.

Clydesdale and Birks development illustrative view

University plans to demolish 30 buildings to construct ~50,000m2 of new student accommodation

Permission sought for 1,250 new bedrooms on fifteen acre Streatham campus Clydesdale and Birks development site, half as large again as 1,200 bedroom East Park development.

All Planning & Place
Arts & Culture
Exeter Princesshay Debenhams closing down sale

Top floor of former Debenhams store to be converted into cinema

Princesshay owner's proposals for change of use to four screen cinema and cafe/bar have been under discussion since November 2019.

Preston Street Union present SERGE/SURGE at Cricklepit Mill

Preston Street Union rolls out the red carpet

The Exeter-based artists explore migration driven by the city's historic wool trade in new work commissioned by RAMM.

Photo of The Jambassadors by Gabe Riedlinger

Jambassadors feature in pop-up Jazz Toast at Barnfield Theatre

Musical director Roz Harding invites us to join an Exeter College Music Academy student collective in a one-night-only experimental exploration of in-the-moment improvisation.

All Arts & Culture
Democracy & Governance
Exeter Guildhall needs repairs

£37.5 million council maintenance backlog caused by underinvestment to be part-funded by asset sales

Exeter City Council has allowed property assets to deteriorate while prioritising new schemes including the £44 million St Sidwell's Point leisure centre, forcing it to identify assets for sale to pay its outstanding repair bills.

Independent councillor Jemima Moore campaigns in Newtown during the 2019 Exeter local elections

Door to door campaigning for May local elections to go ahead after all

Government announces relaxation of coronavirus restrictions on election canvassing from next Monday 8 March in step with planned lockdown rule changes.

Exeter City Council offices on Paris Street

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

Exeter City Council has responded to an enquiry about disproportionate Church of England representation on the Liveable Exeter Place Board by accusing Exeter Observer of promoting a "partisan narrative" and claiming our public interest reporting "bears no resemblance to fact".

All Democracy & Governance
Education & Skills
Exeter University & College Union strike third week rally at St David's Church - Billy Bragg concert

University of Exeter strike ends third week with rally and concert at St David's Church

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in four weeks of national industrial action over pensions, equal pay for female and BAME staff, increasing workloads and the use of casual employment contracts.

Striking University of Exeter history lecturers Dr Jennifer Farrell and Dr Gemma Clark

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in a national eight day strike for fair pay and pensions, including equal pay for female and BAME staff, and against casualisation and increasing workloads.

Rhian Keyse speaking at Exeter UCU's anti-casualisation campaign launch

Education union challenges university to address widespread casualisation of teaching staff

Exeter University & College Union (UCU) launched an anti-casualisation campaign on Friday as a prelude to negotiation with the University of Exeter over academic staff contracts.

Economy & Enterprise
Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

Illustration showing how the new building will look when completed

Exeter Science Park STEMM "grow-out building" construction begins

A new specialist centre for fast-growth Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths & Medicine businesses will be completed by November 2021.

Small retail businesses on Paris Street, Exeter

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

Exeter City Council in bottom third of local authorities as only 45% of eligible local businesses claim government coronavirus support money.

All Economy & Enterprise
Community & Society
Great Western Hotel beside Exeter St David's railway station

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

Exeter City Council has yet to confirm whether it will use any of the £2.15m Rough Sleeping Initiative funding it has received since 2018 to keep housing rough sleepers when government emergency accommodation funding runs out.

Night shelter for homeless and rough sleepers in Magdalen Street, Exeter (front)

Exeter rough sleepers night shelter to open all year round

Exeter City Council has approved plans to extend Magdalen Street night shelter opening from April to the end of September.

Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut communicates with ground controllers from the flight deck

University of Exeter PRISM network champions queer STEMM pioneers

Exeter students celebrated the lives of polar explorer and botanist Elke Mackenzie, inventor, engineer and futurist Nikola Tesla and astronaut and children's author Sally Ride in winning LGBT+ network competition entries.

All Community & Society