Colchester Borough Council and Colchester Amphora Energy Ltd (wholly owned by the council), are planning to install a district heat system in the proposed Northern Gateway housing and office development.

This will significantly reduce carbon emissions caused by heating homes and offices and will generate a source of hot water to replace boilers in the new homes being built.

This flagship project, which in 2017 was one of only nine in the UK to gain funding from the Department for Business, Enterprise & Industrial Strategy, will significantly reduce carbon emissions caused by heating buildings. As the technology has not been used at such a large scale before in the UK, the project is of national interest – although it has been widely used in Europe with great success.

Some other key benefits of the scheme include:


  • Value for consumers: A district heat network can offer extremely competitive and stable energy prices over the long-term and a centralised heat source is more efficient in carbon savings than individual boilers.
  • Planning asset: Renewable heat networks support Colchester’s local sustainability aims to become a greener, eco-friendlier place to live, work and play.
  • Local Infrastructure: As part of the ‘infrastructure first’ design of the Northern Gateway, this innovative local energy network would be installed prior to construction of the homes and commercial areas, alongside ultrafast fibre broadband.


As part of the preliminary work for the district heating scheme, operations move into a new phase this week at the eastern end of the Northern Gateway development, on the Mill Road sports ground, following two months of work at the west end of the site. This is to assess the volume of water that can be extracted from the aquifer as part of the open loop ground source heat pump system.

This phase of works will last 3-10 weeks (depending on the results observed) and will not disrupt traffic or cause dust and fumes. Working hours are 0800 to 1800 when many people are at work themselves. Although nearby residents will see the works occurring, they should not be inconvenienced.

Commenting on the pioneering scheme, Councillor Theresa Higgins, Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: “Colchester is leading the way with this project which is the first in the UK of its kind. Reducing heating related carbon emissions is more important now than it has ever been before, and this is a fantastic project which we hope will be a resounding success.”

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