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Leeds PIPES network ahead of schedule

Civic buildings in the city centre are due to be connected to waste-powered heat and hot water ahead of schedule thanks to progress over the lockdown period.

Senior councillors discussed the development of the city’s district heating network and new proposals for a third phase of the scheme at a meeting of the executive board today.

The network provides sustainable heat and hot water to homes, businesses and civic buildings using heat generated from household waste at the city’s Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF).

Work to install the second phase of the 19km network has progressed faster than planned in recent months due to a reduction in city centre traffic. The progress means that well known buildings including the Civic Hall, Town Hall, Leeds Art Gallery, Central Library and Leeds City Museum can connect to sustainable heating sooner than expected.

Once fully built out, the district heating network will save a combined 11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

The project has helped employ more than 430 people in the local low carbon sector including 36 apprentices. Throughout the lockdown period, construction has been undertaken safely and in line with government guidance on social distancing.

Leeds City Council has also published its vision to significantly extend the network by 2.4 kilometres, subject to securing external funding.

The third phase of the network would see the scheme extended into the South Bank area to connect to even more buildings, including the Leeds Discovery Centre, reducing the city’s carbon footprint by 3,000 tonnes.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development said:

“I would like to thank everyone for working so hard and safely over the lockdown period to accelerate Leeds’ journey to becoming a carbon-neutral city.

“Our district heating network is a great example of why heating homes and buildings sustainably is a key focus of our work to tackle the climate emergency.

“We will continue to work with local and national partners to secure additional investments—and jobs—in green infrastructure for Leeds as part of our vision for a sustainable and inclusive recovery.”

Rob Falcon, Project Director, Vital Energi, said:

“Leeds City Council have developed a visionary scheme which will have a huge, positive impact on both reducing carbon emissions, air quality and alleviating the levels of fuel poverty in the area.

“The Leeds PIPES network is now expanding to connect some of Leeds’ iconic civic buildings, making it more efficient and delivering further energy cost reductions.

“We are delighted to continue to support Leeds City Council with this essential energy project which will become a significant part of the UK’s energy infrastructure.”

The ‘Leeds PIPES’ district heating network is being delivered in partnership between Leeds City Council and Vital Energi with funding support from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership through the Energy Accelerator programme.

Roger Marsh, OBE, Chair of the LEP, said:

“It’s fantastic to see how the Energy Accelerator has helped this next phase of the Leeds district heat network become a reality.

“This is a clear demonstration of the commitment the LEP, the Combined Authority and Leeds City Council have to work together to reduce carbon emissions within the City Region whilst also lowering energy bills for businesses and households as well as improving people’s quality of life and health.”