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Possible expansion of Wick heating scheme discussed


By David G Scott

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On Monday, the Caithness Committee looked at the benefits of the Wick District Heating project and discussed the potential to expand the scheme so more properties across the town can be included.

The current project is well underway to connect 123 council houses, many of whose tenants are in fuel poverty as a result of the combined impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis and the Energy Crisis.

The Ignis plant burns around 700 tonnes of locally sourced wood chip each month. Picture: Alan Hendry
The Ignis plant burns around 700 tonnes of locally sourced wood chip each month. Picture: Alan Hendry

The report highlighted that the expansion of the domestic heating network is dependent on infrastructure expansion and further technical and financial analysis. The council and its partners will continue to consider the potential for future phases to connect council houses and non-domestic buildings as and when the opportunity arises.

Wick and East Caithness councillor and leader of the Highland Council, Cllr Raymond Bremner said: “This is a good news story.

Councillor Raymond Bremner after being given a tour of the Ignis plant in Wick last year. Picture: Alan Hendry
Councillor Raymond Bremner after being given a tour of the Ignis plant in Wick last year. Picture: Alan Hendry

"It is something that I’ve been really keen to see delivered as quickly as possible. Providing a greater choice of heat supplier will deliver considerable savings for many in certain areas of Wick and, hopefully, more areas in the near future. It was important that the paper came to the Caithness Area Committee to ensure that members are fully briefed on exactly how the project is progressing and to fully review and scrutinise the progress being made.”

“I was also delighted that our new chief executive for Highland Council, Derek Brown, had the ability to visit the Ignis plant last week and see the benefit that the council and others are looking to deliver to its tenants and the greater community in Wick.”

Councillor Raymond Bremner (left) and Harris Gilmore, manager of Ignis Wick Ltd, inside the biomass plant. Picture: Alan Hendry
Councillor Raymond Bremner (left) and Harris Gilmore, manager of Ignis Wick Ltd, inside the biomass plant. Picture: Alan Hendry

Councillor Karl Rosie added: “Fuel poverty and the rising cost of heating homes is of major concern, and I am particularly pleased that this project is providing on average costs to tenants of £500 per year for heat and hot water, presenting significant savings compared to the costs for both gas and electric heating.

"Highland council's administration have allocated £500,000 from Capital Programme budgets to complete heating installations for District Heating Expansion in council houses. Ideally, we can roll-out the expansion once the required feasibility studies take place and we are determined to identify further solutions to this issue for all our communities across the Highlands."


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