Red tape stops green plans for Cupar development

A district heating scheme could have benefits for all of Cupar.
A district heating scheme could have benefits for all of Cupar.

The Scottish Government has been accused of using “bureaucratic red tape” to block progress on an innovative district heating scheme for Cupar.

Local environmental organisation Sustainable Cupar has developed plans for what it describes as “a nearly zero carbon district heating scheme” but now say the proposal has been rejected by the government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) for want of “a signed piece of paper”, leaving them “hung out to dry”.

Gordon Pay from Sustainable Cupar told the Herald that the project would: “add sustainable value” to the Cupar North development, involving community ownership that would mean, he said: “Money for energy is retained in the town and not exported to large energy companies.”

He added that the proposal had made it as far as the last 10 in the Scottish Government Local Energy challenge Fund (LECF).

“The concept was described as ‘great’,” Mr Pay said, “and was recommended to be supported by the LCITP.

“However,” he continued, “the LCITP has now refused to give it even basic funding to establish a business case. This is because Sustainable Cupar has not been able to obtain a signed piece of paper expressing interest from the commercial developers, worth no more than its recycling value.”

Sustainable Cupar has already received funding from the Scottish Government, for studies into the feasibility of a district heating scheme at Cupar North, which Mr Pay said showed it was an appropriate area for disrict heating.

Further funding from LCITP would be used to develop a business case for the scheme.

But the Scottish Government’s explanation was clear: “In order to successfully deliver an investment case business proposal and move towards delivery of a district heating scheme the community group would need to seccure the support of the Cupar North housing developers to Sustainable Cupar’s proposed district heating project,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the consortium involved in developing Cupar North said that they would not be commenting at this stage.

The consortium comprises Persimmon Homes, Headon Developments and Vico Properties. The planned development, curving the north of Cupar, includes almost 1500 homes, a relief road to the north of Cupar, a hotel and restaurant, petrol station, retail and industrial facilities, with land for land for a new primary school and community facilities; business, employment and retail uses as well as recreational green space.

The application has attracted hundreds of objections.