VIKING ENERGY NETWORK JARROW
Every Council must do its bit to tackle climate change. Using renewable resources to replace fossil fuels has seen offices, schools and leisure centres benefit from reduced energy bills as well as cutting their carbon footprints. South Tyneside Council (STC) has taken a radical and ground-breaking approach to this challenge.
Instead of looking at small-scale, on-site solutions, STC has taken the revolutionary approach of developing an energy centre on council-owned brownfield land to provide heat across the Jarrow region.
The scheme removes water from the River Tyne, extracts the heat and distributes it to eleven properties, including high-rise flats, council offices, care homes and sheltered housing. The solar array will power the heat pump, with the battery storage allowing efficient use of the renewable electricity produced on-site.
The CHP unit will be used intermittently as a backup when demand requires.
- Project by South Tyneside Council
- £10million investment supported by European Regional Development Fund
- Energy Centre consisting of Water Source Heat Pump, Gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
- 1 MW of Ground-mounted Solar PV, Battery Storage Units
- Former industrial site disused for 12 years
- Over 6 km of district heating pipework delivering renewable heat to council buildings,
council-owned housing, and NHS properties
- The site is home to UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species the Dingy Skipper butterfly
- Planning works including screening opinion, planning application, site drawings, design & access statement, planning statement and application management
- Air Quality Impact Assessment for CHP unit
- Noise Impact Assessment for energy centre and Battery Storage
- Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment & Historic Assessment for energy centre and water abstraction at the riverside location
- Ecological surveys of the site including phase 1 habitat, otter, badger, Dingy Skipper, breeding bird and tree surveys
APPROACH & SOLUTIONS
With such a complex scheme, timing is everything. Due to our previous works carried out on the site, we had the advantage of knowing that the area was home to Dingy Skipper butterflies, which rely on brownfield sites in the northeast of England. This information, alongside the extensive vegetation management and scale of the development, meant we needed to prioritise the ecological surveys on site.
“Ideal breeding conditions for the Dingy Skipper are often found in disused quarries, railways, spoil heaps and similar disturbed sites. Such ‘brownfield’ sites are now perhaps the most important habitat for the butterfly in many parts of England, but are often targeted for redevelopment by housing and industry”
While the ecological surveys were underway, our Planning & Environmental divisions worked as part of the Design Team headed up by Desco. The scheme could have required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and we were responsible for compiling and submitting a Screening Opinion request to the Planning Authority. While the screening was negative and therefore didn’t require an EIA, the Major Planning Application did need specialist environmental assessments for various proposal elements.
In support of the planning application, which our Associate Director Bethan Lewis oversaw, our environmental teams provided additional project value through noise, air quality, landscape and visual, and heritage assessments. Our support ensured the scheme would comply with strict environmental regulations during operation and would not negatively affect the environment.
The Planning Committee unanimously approved the planning application on the 29th of March 2021, with members giving their complete backing to this innovative venture. To date, the council project has received £3.5million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund for its pioneering approach to this first-of-its-kind scheme.
Our assessments identified opportunities for biodiversity enhancement targeting benefits, specifically for the Dingy Skipper butterfly, demonstrating that this species could specifically benefit from the development of the land. Common terns and other bird species will also gain nesting and foraging resources from our proposed plans.
Construction for the scheme is due to begin in summer 2021 following the appointment of Principal Contractor, Colloide. Our teams remain involved in the scheme discharging the planning conditions and making new planning applications to accommodate a revised water abstraction and additional pipework requirements. We are delighted to have supported such an innovative project that looks certain to make a difference to the people within the area and habitat.
As the project progresses, we’ll keep you updated.