District Heat users advised on how to avoid falling foul of new laws

Biomass specialist, re:heat, has joined forces with leading law firms Ward Hadaway and Harper Macleod LLP and the Energy Saving Trust, to host a series of technical seminars throughout the North and Scotland to advise operators and owners of biomass district heating schemes on the government’s new Heat Network Regulations.

Neil Harrison, re:heat director and vice chair of the Wood Heat Association, explains: “The new Heat Network Regulations, which come into full force from December 2016, have significant implications for owners and operators of district heating schemes of all sizes.

“The uptake of district heating using biomass boilers has been significant under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), with many hundreds of new schemes installed across the UK since the scheme was introduced in 2011.

“Many installers and scheme owners have implemented biomass district heating projects without fully understanding the new legislative environment in which they will operate.  There is also mounting concern and evidence that many schemes are not operating as efficiently as they could.

“This is why we have developed our technical seminar series in partnership with two leading law firms in Scotland and the North of England. We aim to bring owners and operators up to speed to prevent them from falling foul of the new legislation. For example, the new legal requirements state that all heat customers must have a heat meter fitted and owners must meet other obligations or face enforcement action.

“The seminar series is part of our ongoing efforts to drive up quality standards in the biomass sector, and have been developed for the benefit of biomass district heating scheme owners. We want to provide expert guidance to help operators navigate regulation changes, maximise the operating efficiency of underperforming systems and increase their RHI income.”

The seminars are intended for anyone who owns or is developing a biomass district heating scheme or who provides heat to a number of end users in a property – particularly in the rural, forestry or agricultural sectors. Housing associations and local authorities will also benefit.

Experts from North law firm Ward Hadaway’s Company and Commercial Team and Scottish law firm Harper Macleod LLP will advise attendees on how to comply with the new regime.

Steven Roper, associate at Ward Hadaway, said: “The Heat Network Regulations impose a series of important obligations on anyone who provides a communal heating or cooling system to customers or tenants. As such, they apply to a wide range of organisations from energy providers to housing associations and local authorities.

“However, our experience indicates that most providers are unaware of the burdens imposed by these regulations, and many may well be in breach as a result.The potential penalties from not complying with the new regime are serious, so this is something which people cannot afford to ignore.

“This is why we are delighted to be offering our expertise in these areas to support re:heat in helping providers and land owners better understand and comply with their obligations.”

Scottish Land & Estates, the new voice of land-based businesses in rural Scotland will also be in attendance.

Sarah-Jane Laing, director of policy and parliamentary affairs at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Our members have been at the forefront of the biomass sector and many have used biomass to heat cottages and other buildings via a district heating system. This has enabled them to address energy efficiency and fuel cost issues which exist in rural properties.

“We are always looking for ways in which to help members improve the way in which they do things, and these seminars provide an excellent opportunity for both those who already have biomass heating networks and those contemplating installation.”

The Energy Saving Trust is another supporter of the seminar series with representatives speaking at selected venues in Scotland on the funding opportunities available for district heating projects.

As well as getting the legal low-down, attendees will also hear from re:heat engineering experts on how to optimise district heating scheme outputs through improved controls, metering and measuring to increase RHI income and reduce wood fuel costs.

They will also receive an update on national biomass policy, the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and the biomass sector in general. The seminars also provide an opportunity for guests to network with other owners of biomass district heating schemes in their area.

To book a place or find out more about Biomass District Heating and the Heat Network Regulations seminar series, please contact Penny Stewart at re:heat by emailing: penny@reheat.uk.com or telephone: 01665 665 040. Details are also available online at www.reheat.uk.com/heatnetworks.

Seminar dates & venues:

Tuesday 27th September 2016**             Ayrshire – Craufurdland Castle
Tuesday 11th October 2016                         Aberdeenshire – Inverurie, Thainstone Centre
Tuesday 25th October 2016**                    Perthshire – Battleby, Battleby Centre
Tuesday 8th November 2016                      Cumbria – Penrith, The Rheged Centre
Tuesday 15th November 2016                    North Yorkshire – Moulton, The Black Bull
Tuesday 22nd November 2016                   Scottish Borders – Carfraemill, Carfraemill Hotel
Tuesday 6th December 2016                       Northumberland – Morpeth, Cockle Park

*Each seminar starts at 9.45am and ends with lunch and networking.
** On these dates, the Energy Saving Trust will also be speaking on district heating project funding opportunities.