Council considers Copenhagen-style scheme as government announces plan to cap zero-carbon costs

Swindon council is working on plans to create the first carbon-negative town in Britain.

The council has asked Brian Mark, director of sustainability at green consultancy Fulcrum, and a member of the government’s Renewables Advisory Board, to turn power stations into combined heat and power plants fuelled by renewable sources, including the town’s rubbish.

Mark said: “Most of our electricity is made by burning coal or gas and we chuck the heat away. This wastes energy and causes huge carbon emissions that could be saved.”

He wants Swindon’s system to emulate aspects of Copenhagen’s district heating system, which is based on a similar concept and supplies 97% of the city with heat.

Steve Cains, a senior planner at Swindon council, said the local authority had asked Fulcrum to produce a report on sustainability issues. “Nothing will be decided until April,” he said.

The news comes as the government this week launched a consultation into the definition of zero carbon, the standard that all new homes will have to meet by 2016. The consultation will also include:

• A financial limit on the cost of making a home zero carbon, which housebuilders will not be expected to exceed

• An option for developers to meet the zero-carbon target by making improvements to the energy efficiency of existing homes.

Responding to the launch, Paul King, the UK Green Building Council’s chief executive, criticised the plan on the grounds that a zero-carbon home built using offsetting “would not be doing what it said on the tin”.