Skip to main content

Cambridgeshire village 'retrofitted' in pioneering energy scheme

23 November 2022

Homes in Swaffham Prior have been connected to the first renewable heat network to be retrofitted into an existing community.

This groundbreaking scheme, which is being delivered by technical engineering and services partner, Bouygues Energies & Services, will enable the community to switch off oil and move onto zero-carbon heating.

With the National Stage talking climate change at COP27, Cambridgeshire is doing their bit to move away from fossil fuels and move to a reliable renewable heat.

The first homes that have been connected to this pioneering initiative in Swaffham Prior are currently receiving low carbon heat and hot water via an energy centre and heat network. They say they are delighted with the quality of the connection and level of heat.

Apart from cutting carbon emissions, the innovation of this scheme is that it offered all homes the opportunity to sign up to the project with no upfront capital costs before construction completes. For a Just Transition, providing opportunity to all homes, regardless of their ability to pay, to switch to renewable heat was important as our concern is the vulnerable and less well off households in off gas communities will be left behind and end up paying more for their bills.

To showcase this achievement, we had representatives from our main funders from Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy see what has been achieved so far, including the heat network pipework throughout the village, the Energy Centre and a visit to one of the first pilot homes to receive heat.

Almost half of the properties have committed to the heat network and homes that have signed up will be connected in a phased approach leading up to spring next year.

Currently, about 70% of the residents rely on oil to provide heating and hot water to their homes. The remaining use either electric or other alternative sources. We have high ambitions for this project and aim to have 90% of the village connected in the next 5 years. Not only that, but the council has secured grant funding to help those on low incomes to improve energy efficiency of their homes so that they can save money on their heating bill while cutting carbon.

Not only is oil a fossil fuel and carbon intensive, but it contributes to local air pollution and makes the village more vulnerable to global challenges.

The ambition is to end fuel poverty, reduce dependence on oil and provide cheaper, renewable heating to as many homes as possible, helping the county meet its aim of becoming net zero by 2045.

Attendees from Cambridgeshire County Council, Bouygues Energies and Services, the Community Land Trust and funders from the Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy visited the site on Tuesday.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s environment and green investment committee chair, Cllr Lorna Dupre, said: “This initiative is an exciting development for Swaffham Prior, but also for the county and the wider green community which is watching with interest.

“We would like to thank people for their belief in the development, particularly those who have already signed up. This is a long-term project which will not just benefit them but also the environment, and could be the first of many.”

For more information about the project, visit