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Watt a great energy scheme!

East Devon District Council today approved plans for an energy centre to be built on the £120 million Skypark development site near Exeter Airport . (Subject to a section 106 agreement)

Approval for the Energy Centre, which will provide energy to both Skypark, (a joint venture partnership between St Modwen and Devon County Council) and the new community of Cranbrook, comes days after developers and the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point partners signed a £4.1 million public sector funding package for the energy centre scheme.

This whole scheme will go towards ensuring that CO² emissions are significantly reduced across both developments and will help both Cranbrook and Skypark reach higher standards of sustainability in line with the transition of the South West to a low carbon economy.

The creation of this package began last year when the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) awarded the Growth Point £3.7 million from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund.

Each of the Growth Point partners (Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council and the South West RDA) then made a contribution to an additional £400,000, raising the total funding package to £4.1 million. This package will enable both developments to benefit from a district heating pipe network and energy centre, providing energy to all the homes, offices and industrial space.

Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St Modwen, Skypark’s joint venture partner and the UK’s leading regeneration expert, was delighted to hear that the application has been approved he said:

“The energy centre facility fully supports our plans to make Skypark a sustainable employment hub to serve Exeter and Devon’s economy, creating up to 6,500 jobs locally. We, and our development partners Devon County Council, believe we are taking an important lead in low carbon development which will become more and more important to business occupiers over the next few years.”

The Energy Centre building will be innovative in its design and is set to achieve the highest standards of environmental ratings for buildings (BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard).

Following approval for the scheme the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point can also confirm that the chosen energy supplier for the scheme is E.ON, one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies. E.ON’s commitment to the scheme includes the £20 million Energy Centre which will provide the heat and power to the residential and commercial properties.

Michael Woodhead From E.ON’s Sustainable Energy business said: “We’re delighted to come on board and support this scheme. To be involved in delivering a highly efficient Combined Heat and Power district heating project in a major new community like this gives us a great sense of pride. Schemes like these help us reduce our carbon emissions and can help cut customer bills. This scheme is just one of a number that we are delivering across the UK and is part of our commitment to change the way energy is created and used in the UK.

Growth Point Chairman and East Devon District Councillor Ray Franklin explains why this scheme, which has been described as an exemplar large scale CHP, is so ground breaking:

“What we are actually doing is rewriting the blueprint for how developments are built and how energy can be supplied. We will be one of the first, if not the first local authority to build a mass open market development with district heating from day one. We will not only be reducing carbon emissions, but reducing energy bills for the people who are going to live and work in these buildings. The potential benefits for the environment and for the residents are clear. It’s such good news for the future residents of this area”.

This is a monumental step in the process of getting Cranbrook and Skypark off the ground. With the planning permission in place and the funding in the bank, East Devon District Council also looks set to reach higher levels of sustainability at Cranbrook, which may then qualify the authority for an enhanced Affordable Housing Grant from the HCA.

Devon County Councillor William Mumford, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Strategic Planning said: ” This pioneering development shows that balancing environmental needs with economic growth, is not just possible, it is commercially advantageous.

“The Energy Centre is at the heart of this project, which will create new jobs, improve the knowledge base and strengthen the local economy. Devon County Council is proud to support the scheme and help local businesses benefit from this investment.”