Posted: Wed 12th Jul 2023

Cheshire ‘Hydrogen Village’ plans shelved following local resistance

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 12th, 2023


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A pioneering scheme that aimed to transform Whitby, Ellesmere Port, into the UK’s first ‘hydrogen village’ has been called off following opposition from local residents.

The joint venture between Cadent, the gas network company, and British Gas, the household energy supplier, intended to showcase the potential of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly substitute for traditional natural gas in heating and cooking.

This ambitious project, which sought to convert up to 2,000 homes to green hydrogen, triggered a wave of local resistance.

Residents voiced apprehensions over safety, costs, and the perception of being involuntarily forced to switch their energy supply.

Acknowledging this resistance, Cadent and British Gas have suggested Redcar in North Yorkshire as a likely alternative site for the government to consider.

Justin Madders, the MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, welcomed the cancellation, which he described as “inevitable.”

He encouraged the government and gas networks to learn from the experience. He emphasised that the public must have access to clear, convincing information about safety, efficacy, and cost before being asked to try new forms of energy.

Madders also underscored the importance of consent in such initiatives, given the ongoing climate crisis.

Despite the proposed benefits of the project—including new hydrogen appliances installed and maintained free of charge, price-matching to natural gas for the programme’s duration, and £2,500 in home energy efficiency improvements—many families remained resistant.

Madders has since called for “cast iron assurances” that the people of Whitby and Ellesmere Port will not be subjected to a hydrogen initiative at a later date.

In a statement, Cadent expressed disappointment on behalf of those residents who had hoped their community could play a leading role in the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.

However, the company remains optimistic about the role of hydrogen in achieving net zero, even as Whitby won’t be the location for the trial.

The information gathered over the past 12 months from the community engagement in Whitby will continue to shape the future of home and business heating in the UK.

As the pursuit of net zero continues, the tension between community concerns and the adoption of new energy sources remains a significant challenge.

This recent turn of events emphasises the importance of transparency, public consent, and consideration of local concerns in the successful deployment of green energy initiatives.

Cadent reaffirmed its commitment to keeping the residents of Whitby safe and warm, promising to continue its relentless work in providing diverse, sustainable options on the journey to net zero.

Writing on Twitter yesterday, Energy Minister Lord Callanan said a lack of local support meant the high profile project has been shelved. “After listening to the views of residents, it’s clear that there is no strong local support, therefore Whitby will no longer be considered as the location for the UK’s first hydrogen village trial,” he said.

 

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