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Council leads plans to transform Cambridgeshire’s local energy system

09 August 2023

New plans to transform Cambridgeshire’s local energy system will cut carbon emissions and build energy security.

With excessive heat being experienced across Europe, the impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent. Here in Cambridgeshire, over 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions are directly linked to burning fossil fuels for energy: using gas to warm homes, putting petrol or diesel in cars, or for generating power for us to use at home, work or to create the things we buy.

Developing a Local Area Energy Plan is anticipated to help the County get ahead of the curve on the route to a greener society and attract investment into a future cleaner energy system.

The Plan will consider how Cambridgeshire can lead the way in developing and designing more efficient and resilient energy systems which cut greenhouse gas emissions and enable the county to become Net Zero by 2045, five years’ ahead of national targets.

The Local Area Energy Plan is underpinned by the recognition that individual and community choices are at the heart of tackling our climate crisis and this work will help establish a path towards a fossil fuel free future. It will also consider how this energy transformation can be achieved sustainably and cost effectively.

This endeavour will adopt a whole systems approach, identifying that our environmental future relies on taking action to generate clean power sources and the need to cut emissions by switching away from fossil fuel use.

Demand for electricity is set to double between now and 2045, so careful planning and early collaboration is essential to secure the area’s economic future. This Plan will establish total energy demands, the role of the Council and wider opportunities for the public sector and the investment needed for structural changes across the marketplace locally.

Stakeholder engagement is critical to the plan’s development. Cambridgeshire County Council and its partners including the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the Cambridgeshire Local Planning Authorities as well as UK Power Networks will deliver the Plan over the next 18 months. Working with communities, landowners, developers, public sector and businesses will be key to understand what is needed and how to get a new low carbon energy system.

This strategy work builds on the Council’s recently approved community energy policy for collaborating with communities on energy projects to identify how communities can benefit from the energy system changes. Part of the plan will identify support for interested communities to develop their own energy projects and how best to collaborate on projects with partners to bring community benefits. Environmentally-focused groups have already achieved community-led renewable energy schemes in Reach and Gamlingay.

A ground-up approach will enable local people in towns and villages across Cambridgeshire to embrace renewable technologies and build on local learning from the UK’s first retrofitted renewable heat network at Swaffham Prior which was delivered by Cambridgeshire County Council, in partnership with the local Community Land Trust at Swaffham Prior.

A group of people in high visibility jackets gather around an energy facility.
The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero [DESNZ] visiting Cambridgeshire's innovative Energy Centre at Swaffham Prior

Councillor Lorna Dupre, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee said: “The only way we will reach Net Zero is if we all work together. This Local Area Energy Plan establishes what, where and how we invest in our future energy system. It also looks at the role for the County Council in this transition and how we can ensure we engage all stakeholders in the plan making.

“Our approach puts communities at the heart of our Local Energy System Transition because we believe everyone should benefit from the opportunities that come with system changes and the greater use of renewable technology.”

Community groups and potential stakeholders who are interested in energy infrastructure can get in touch with the Council by emailing