An initiative is underway in a rural Northumberland community to investigate the feasibility of a major renewable heat scheme.

The Haydon Bridge District Heating project may become one of the UK's largest community owned renewable heat initiatives.

It is a joint venture delivered by the Haydon Bridge Net Zero Group, Community Action Northumberland (CAN), the Rural Design Centre, and Reheat.

The aim is to significantly cut the carbon footprint of almost 1,000 properties in the Haydon Bridge area that currently rely on oil and solid fuel for heat.

Peter Fletcher, a member of the Haydon Bridge Net Zero Group, said: "Tackling the climate emergency is a key objective in the 2022-2036 Haydon Parish Neighbourhood Plan.

"There is no mains gas in Haydon Bridge and finding alternative affordable and sustainable ways of heating homes and businesses in the village through renewable energy solutions is a central part of achieving this objective

"We therefore welcome this renewable energy feasibility study and the Haydon Bridge Net Zero Group is a key partner in the work.

"We await the results with great interest and are committed to taking this initiative forward."

Liz Gray from the Rural Design Centre reiterated the initiative's importance.

She said: "We are really pleased to be supporting Haydon Bridge to investigate long-term opportunities for reducing their reliance on fossil fuels, while keeping the benefits of energy production and distribution within the community."

For rural communities like Haydon Bridge, district heating schemes present a viable option for decarbonising heat.

Andy Dean, chief executive of Community Action Northumberland, said: “We need to find ways to help smaller rural communities make the transition away from fossil fuels in a way that benefits everyone.

"If we can help reduce energy costs, lower emissions, and make energy supply more resilient, what’s not to like?”

Reheat's director, Neil Harrison, said: "District heating schemes, where they are developed and controlled by the communities they serve present unrivalled opportunities to deliver lower carbon and lower cost heat, while at the same time creating employment and building wealth in the community itself – something which is particularly important for our rural areas."

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