Major step in Worthing’s net zero plans revealed

An artist's impression of the energy centre looking up High Street

The first major step has been taken towards Worthing becoming a net zero town.

Residents are being invited to have their say on a planning application to build an energy centre for the Worthing Heat Network – a pioneering scheme which would bring low-carbon heat to buildings and homes across the borough.

The application has been submitted by Hemiko, a low-carbon energy company formerly known as Pinnacle Power, which has been commissioned by Worthing Borough Council to design, build and operate a heat network for the town.

Heat networks are an alternative to gas boilers – they provide heating and hot water to homes and buildings through a network of insulated pipes. Using technology well proven in Europe and in the UK, the Worthing Heat Network will enable a host of buildings across the town, including those owned by the council and NHS to access more sustainable heating. The network will do this by using large-scale heat pumps and waste heat.

The heat network forms a key part of the council’s decarbonisation work to achieve its pledges of being both a carbon neutral authority by 2030 and a net zero town by 2045.

To bring the Worthing Heat Network and its decarbonising benefits to life, a range of infrastructure, both underground and above, will need to be developed.

In its application, Hemiko has proposed that an energy centre, which will house the heat pumps, thermal store and ancillary kit, is sited next to the High Street multi-storey car park. The centre will take heat from the air and upgrade it to usable heat. The only by-product of this will be cooler air, which is then released by a series of fans on the roof of the car park.

The low-carbon energy centre and its associated components are key to pumping heat to buildings around the town through the network of insulated underground pipes.

To complete these works, the proposal suggests that two trees located outside the main entrance of the car park will need to be removed. Following a tree valuation and condition survey by an independent company, one of these trees has been described as ‘moderate quality’ and one as ‘low quality’.

As part of the application, new trees will be planted in the town, and the energy centre itself will feature an extensive green wall, as well as a number of bushes around it.

The Worthing Heat Network is expected to cut the town’s carbon emissions by at least 3,000 tonnes a year – a figure which is estimated to be the equivalent of removing more than 2,000 cars off the road. Another key benefit will be improvements to air quality, as the Worthing Heat Network will remove polluting gas boilers from the town.

Cllr Sophie Cox, Worthing’s cabinet member for climate emergency, said: “The Worthing Heat Network is a really exciting project for the town and a key part of our goal to be a carbon neutral authority by 2030.

“Buildings such as Worthing Hospital, Splashpoint, the Connaught Cinema and our council offices will benefit from the heat network, allowing us to remove our gas boilers from these public spaces and improve our town’s air quality.

“I’d really encourage locals to look over the plans and tell us what they think.”

Jim Birse, Worthing Heat Network Project Director at Hemiko said: “Our vision is to offer everyone in Worthing a low-carbon heat network connection by the time they need to decarbonise. We hope to make the net zero transition as simple as possible for the communities we are part of.”

The planning application is set to be reviewed by the council’s planning committee at its meeting at Worthing Town Hall on Wednesday 20th December from 6.30pm.

To view the application in detail and make a comment, visit https://planning.adur-worthing.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter reference number AWDM/1439/23 in the search bar.

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