European Structural and Investment Funds
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.
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Leeds set to warm up to district heating network plan

Senior councillors in Leeds will be asked to approve a major new scheme to provide low-cost environmentally-friendly heating at a meeting later this month.

At the council’s executive board meeting to be held at Civic Hall on Monday 17 July, members will be asked to officially endorse plans to create a district heating network for the city. This would see the heat created by the operation of the council’s Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) in east Leeds being used to provide hot water for heating in households and businesses through a network of underground pipes.

If approved and once all the funding is in place, the plan would see the council entering into a contract with Vital Energi Utilities Ltd to design, build and operate the network, which could be completed by April 2019.

When it is processing waste the RERF, which began operating in April last year, is capable of generating power equivalent to more than 22,000 homes. When it was constructed it was designed to be district heating enabled, allowing it to further enhance the city’s green credentials.

The initial phase of the project would see a pipeline created to take hot water from the RERF in Cross Green to properties in and around the city centre and Lincoln Green, including for use in council-managed multi-storey flats. Supporting infrastructure would also be built including an energy centre opposite the RERF and back-up equipment at Saxton Gardens to ensure continuity of supply. Should the planned network prove successful, there is scope for it to be expanded to other areas of the city.

The benefits of the network would include:

  • Tackling fuel poverty by reducing fuel bills of vulnerable residents by approximately 10 per cent through more efficient and controllable heating
  • Improving air quality by making ageing gas boilers in properties connected to the network redundant
  • Creating employment and learning opportunities for local people through the construction of the network, its operation and maintenance
  • Along with the water pipes, the underground network could also be used to install new infrastructure to support superfast broadband
  • Reducing the carbon dioxide emissions levels of the RERF with the energy being redirected and used to heat the water

Leeds City Council executive member for environment and sustainability Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The district heating network is a fantastic project, helping us to make a real difference to people’s lives by tackling fuel poverty, improving air quality and delivering affordable and efficient heating while at the same time also creating jobs and learning opportunities.

“It also further underlines the value of the RERF to Leeds with this clever use of the energy it produces to warm homes and buildings, so we look forward to following the progress of this very exciting project as it develops.”

Funding for the project would come from Leeds City Council and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) managed through the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). A bid for further funding support is also set to be put to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority later this year.

Should the plans be approved by the executive board, further consultation would take place with local communities, councillors and stakeholders as part of the development of the project.

Vital Energi Project Director Mike Cooke said:

“Vital Energi is excited to be working with Leeds City Council on a major 10.5-kilometre district heating network for residential and commercial buildings in the city.

“The project will bring substantial social and economic benefits and we will be making significant investment into local labour and employment opportunities to support the local economy. We have committed to spend 60% of the project cost in the local area and provide 30 work experience placements and apprenticeships; these are just some of the initiatives we will be investing in as part of the heat network delivery.

“We are looking forward to starting work on the ground and delivering Leeds City Council’s ambitious project which we see as an exemplar project to other towns and cities.”

To see the executive board report go to Agenda (agenda item 9).

The project is receiving up to £5,774,497 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

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