Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

A new model for power investment - Investment in 240MW Supergrid for Central Bedfordshire through Housing Infrastructure Fund

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

We have allocated £40M of £70M Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) grant to a ground breaking first 240MW Supergrid which will boost power supply over the whole of Central Bedfordshire and beyond.

We have been granted £70million of central government funding for Biggleswade (announced by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 17 August 2019), over half of which will be used to upgrade the power capacity for the local community and support the planned housing growth of around 3,000 new homes to the east of Biggleswade, as well as support future residential growth and significant planned employment growth. The fund will also provide a new secondary school, a transport interchange at the train station and a replacement bridleway bridge to the north of the town.

Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business for Central Bedfordshire Council said:

Central Bedfordshire is a high housing demand area with 20,000 new homes planned over the next 20 years in addition to the 23,000 homes that are already allocated or have planning permission. Before we can deliver the housing, we must ensure we have the right schools, health services and transport links, all of which rely on a robust, future-proofed power supply. We have commercial developers who tell us that, so good is their location close to the A1/M1 they could sell employment land five times over, if only they had greater power capacity. And the Government is talking about making it mandatory for all new homes to have one electric vehicle charging point, in the not too distant future. Hence we are thinking strategically, sustainably and holistically.

Our decision to make such a significant investment in power cannot be underestimated. In Biggleswade alone we have enough power supply to allow for just 400 more homes before we reach capacity, let alone the 3,000 planned for the area, or for employment growth. Ours is part of a national picture but we have taken an extremely serious strategic approach that focuses on sustainable growth and will be delivering a model that is the first of its kind in the UK.

To create the Supergrid, two existing pylons will be taken down and replaced with new structures, containing additional transformers that will increase capacity, effectively working as an ‘extension lead’ to areas of need.

Currently Biggleswade draws around 40MW capacity per annum. The new Supergrid will initially boost power capacity by an additional 80MW allowing for residential and employment growth, with the balance of 160MW available as demand increases through housing, employment, electric vehicles and technology over the longer term.

The Supergrid will draw power in from the National Grid and boost it out to a much wider area than is currently available, incorporating the A1 corridor and part of the OxCam Arc, potentially boosting capacity for the eastern side of Greater Cambridgeshire, and all the way over to Luton and Milton Keynes.

We have developed our Supergrid model in conjunction with UK Power Networks and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. It addresses the constraints in the area of the existing outdated power infrastructure and unlocks significant growth as well as consumers’ changing demands. As other energy sources become too expensive, or too low in capacity, developers will have the opportunity to buy from Central Bedfordshire Council, who in turn will reinvest back into local services and infrastructure. We are confident it is a model which can be used and developed nationally, not only recovering initial public sector investment but subsequently providing an income stream. The Supergrid investment will unlock growth opportunities, allow for the changes coming that will see us all using electric vehicles and ultimately strengthen the economy of Central Bedfordshire.