Feasibility Study Of Local Heat Network System For Crichton Area Being Carried Out

Following a desk-based feasibility study, Natural Power is now progressing this work to the next phase, with an on-site hydrogeological assessment to further evaluate the feasibility of a Local Heat Network System for The Crichton and surrounding areas. As part of this work, Natural Power has been drilling boreholes adjacent to Eskdale House.

This exciting phase of the study will help inform decisions about the potential of a Local Heat Network System at The Crichton. The work will help build the case for a net zero heating network for The Crichton Quarter. It is hoped that the local heat network will be able to will provide a community-owned and affordable alternative to gas and oil for the homes, businesses, organisations and NHS buildings within The Crichton Quarter.

As well as recognising the impact of their current heating system on the planet, The Crichton Trust, and their tenants and partners, are also suffering the effects of rocketing energy prices. Thanks to the foresight of The Crichton Trust to submit a pre-energy crisis bid to the UK Community Renewal Fund, and with a shared commitment and the backing of Dumfries and Galloway Council and NHS Dumfries and Galloway to reach net zero, The Crichton Trust was in the fortunate position to commission the services of Natural Power in 2022 to progress with the study at pace.

Sam Beaton from Natural Power, who carried out the desk research in the first phase of the study said: “The collective consortium of The Crichton Trust, NHS, Dumfries and Galloway College, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Scottish Rural Agricultural College as well as local private enterprise and residences provide a unique and diversified mix of building age, type and demand for a Local Heat Network. This, combined with the local natural resource in the Dumfries Basin Aquifer and The Crichton Trust’s emphasis on innovation demonstrates a strong and insightful business case for the retrofitting of efficient, low-cost district heating / cooling in a rural, mixed-use setting.”

By drilling boreholes, Natural Power are able to monitor and assess the geology of the Dumfries aquifer and understand its potential as a sustainable heat source for The Crichton.

Toby Gilbert, Head of Design and Geotechnical at Natural Power, who is leading on the hydrogeological assessment, highlighted the national significance of the study. He said: “Our team are very excited to be working on this project that will ultimately provide renewable heat to The Crichton. The Dumfries sedimentary basin contains a very significant aquifer of national importance which is used for agricultural, industrial and domestic supplies. The water is contained within a sequence of Permian breccia, conglomerate and sandstone strata. By looking scientifically at the aquifer characteristics, we can identify how to sustainably develop this resource and ensure long term usage effects are understood”.

Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said: “This is a hugely important project for The Crichton Trust and for the partners and tenants who are set to benefit from the decarbonisation of The Crichton and from the long-term financial savings that will result from the development of a Local Heat Energy Network. We recognise the need to reduce our reliance on gas, to reduce our energy costs and to step-up our efforts to reach net zero, so thanks to the funding received last year, we were well placed to accelerate this timely study. We now eagerly await the findings and recommendations from this phase of the feasibility study, which will help inform next steps.”


The Crichton Trust also benefits from an innovative partnership and recent investment from Dumfries and Galloway Council, who has a shared interest in securing additional technical data about the performance of the Dumfries aquifer basin in supporting, not only a Local Heat Energy Network at The Crichton, but also a Local Heat Energy Network in Dumfries Town Centre.

Cllr Katie Hagmann, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee said: “This is a hugely exciting project and one that the Council is very pleased to be a part of. Dumfries and Galloway Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, and if this proves feasible, this will aid us in our Council’s Climate change activities and promises. Greater progress comes when we work together, as in this case.”
Vice Chair of Economy and Resources, Cllr Sean Marshall said: “Our Council recognises that communities, businesses, and our council’s service delivery are all impacted by the effects of climate change, and our council supports both direct and indirect activities in order to counteract that change. We are looking at a number of ways to address climate change, and this project has the potential to do just that, so I am pleased that we have supplied funding towards this project.”
An NHS Dumfries and Galloway spokesman added: “We are delighted to be involved in this innovative scheme which has the potential both to reduce costs and to contribute to the Board’s plan to achieve net zero in production of CO2.”

The feasibility study exploring the potential of a Local Heat Network System at The Crichton was part-funded by The UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund, while Dumfries and Galloway Council, as part of their drive towards Net Zero by 2025, has funded the last stage of the testing and assessment work to help build the case for the Dumfries Town Centre Heat Project.

The study, now in its final phase, will provide the additional data and information needed to determine the scale and implications of developing a Local Heat Energy Network at The Crichton and the level of investment required to deliver the project.

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