Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Sutton’s low-carbon heat network up and running

Pipes being laid at the start of the project

My speech to full council on 22nd November explains what the council’s district heat network, SDEN is, and how it contributes to our ambitions for a sustainable future for our borough:

In October, on the eve of COP26, the Government published its Net-Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener.

The policies that hit the headlines were ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and grants to install heat pumps. What was also included, but didn’t make the front pages, was the commitment to fund and deliver more low carbon heat networks.

Well here in Sutton, in 2021, we already have a low-carbon heat network, delivering hot water and heating to the new homes being built in Hackbridge. Delivered by this council, it currently supplies 423 properties with fossil-fuel-free energy. The site is still being built out by Barratts, and when completed there will be over 800 residential properties, a supermarket, health facility and office space all being supplied with low-carbon energy.

It is being delivered by, SDEN, the company set up by this council to deliver this project, and it receives support and funding from the Govt’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the department that wrote the Build Back Greener strategy.

As the CIPFA report highlights, this is just phase 1 of a bigger initiative, because now the key infrastructure is in place – delivered within budget – the network can be extended to other existing or new developments, making low-carbon energy available for even more of our residents and businesses.

In 2001 this Liberal Democrat council helped facilitate BedZed, the UK’s first major zero-carbon community, delivered by Bioregional and Peabody Trust. This earned Sutton the reputation of being at the forefront of delivering sustainable projects.

The idea for a district heat network in Sutton came about in around 2012, putting Sutton once again ahead of the curve in its ambitions to achieve a zero-carbon future. And this time the project was delivered entirely by the council.

So what exactly is this heat network that has been built?

The company, SDEN, has installed a highly insulated pipe network connecting the landfill and ERF site in Beddington to the old Felnex site in Hackbridge.

That pipework is now connected to the landfill gas engines that are burning off the methane and CO2 that is emitted from the landfill site. SDEN captures the heat from that process and delivers it via the pipework to New Mill Quarter residents to heat their homes. Once the landfill source becomes depleted the connection will move over to the ERF.

The ERF is already using the heat generated from disposing of our waste to generate electricity for the National Grid. However, the process still produces enough waste heat to also power the whole of the Barratts site and many more sites, and the SDEN pipework will capture this and deliver it around the heat network.

At the Barratts site the energy goes through the Barratt’s-built energy centre and into the homes and businesses there to provide heating and hot water on demand.

This network means the residents and businesses do not have gas boilers in each of their properties, and as they are not using fossil fuel derived energy such as oil or gas, their supply is low-carbon.

We agreed to a review of the decision-making process for this project and we fully accept the findings of the CIPFA report and will incorporate their recommendations into our project management procedures.

 So why are the opposition so desperate to continue to undermine this achievement? Because they never supported it, and they want it to fail. They have made public allegations of wrongdoing. which the CIPFA officials have confirmed are unsubstantiated by any actual evidence. Instead, the chief criticism the CIPFA report makes is that the council was a bit over-optimistic.

Well thank goodness for a bit of optimism and a can-do attitude, because thanks to that, this borough is making headway towards achieving a zero-carbon future. That is something that would never have happened if it was a Tory-run administration.

But while others are digging over past assumptions that were bound to change, and seeking to scupper our attempts to put the company on a sound financial footing, this Liberal Democrat-run council will be getting on with reducing our carbon footprint to help save the planet.

December 1, 2021 - Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | ,


  1. This seems to be a great idea that should be more widely known

    Comment by tiddlyplushn | December 1, 2021 | Reply

  2. Looks like you forgot where you hid reports and objections made by KPMG from your colleagues which resulted in millions in losses. You seem to be attempting to rewrite history. I obviously have an issue with your actions which are at best negligence but I grow increasingly concerned for your mental health. I hope you have a support network around you for when this grows in severity and your actions are scrutinised more. Its a shame you did the things you did as you will now be responsible for tarring this project and similar ones whilst permitting more right wing policies. This is from an SDEN customer currently enjoying repeat outages and sky high pricing.

    Comment by sheldon vestey | December 7, 2021 | Reply

    • For the record, I hid nothing, and there are no ‘millions of losses’ in the company, which can be easily confirmed by checking the company’s accounts. Like most of your accusations on social media in relation to this project, these claims are the product of your own biased assumptions, unsubstantiated by evidence.
      However your commentary on my mental health is completely inappropriate under any circumstances, never mind sinister. I am only leaving your comment public as witness to this.

      Comment by jaynemccoy | December 8, 2021 | Reply

      • Jayne, I’m really sorry but the facts of the matter state the opposite. With that in mind, I do believe it’s prudent to address your understanding of the findings in the report. For your attention, and the public record, I will draw your attention to p37 of the CIPFA report which states the following:

        “In June 2017, it was reported to SSB that the financial model had been revised and that it remained within the parameters that gave rise to delegated authority in
        2015, but interviewees noted that the report was not available. The minutes of that meeting on 14th June 2017 state:

        “Members asked questions about the SDEN financial model which was recently independently reviewed by KPMG who raised no material
        issues. Officers advised that a summary of the findings would be circulated to members as this was not currently available”.

        We understand that this summary was never circulated to members and requests for a copy of the KPMG report (dated 12th May 2017) were not met. The
        statement in the minutes does not adequately reflect the substantive and detailed points raised by KPMG or how they were (or were not) addressed in the revised
        financial model on which the decision to go ahead with SDEN Phase 1 was made.”

        As someone with delegated authority, you were privvy to this and proceeded anyways, opting to not give this information to others. With that in mind, it is clear you hid things.

        On p36 you can also see the losses, which do amount to millions down from original goals which arose out of your actions and are confined to only a few core sections. This isn’t complicated and it is the same objections you hid. I appreciate this is tough for you, and I can only fathom that you are struggling with this and won’t let yourself accept the reality, but this is the plain truth of the matter. The report can be read in full and your refusal to accept facts does paint you in a negative light. I trust that you have a support network and that people will attend to you over this as it does appear you are not able to accept facts, this I why I bring your mental health into it, as I trust others would for me if I had completely ignored the facts. Instead, I continue to raise this in an appropriate manner, driven by the facts, proportional to the scale of your actions.

        I’m sorry it’s gone this way, but you must really be held to account for your actions.


        Comment by Sheldon Vestey | December 9, 2021

      • Sheldon,

        The very quotes you use contradict your allegations: ‘We understand that this summary was never circulated to members and requests for a copy of the KPMG report (dated 12th May 2017) were not met.’ As I am a member that statement also applies to me. I cannot hide what I did not have access to.

        I would also flag that in this council, decisions are made either by a committee of councillors or by officers. Individual councillors do not have decision-making powers, delegated or otherwise.

        The CIPFA report modelling specifically uses cumulative cashflow, not profits and losses. Its modelling shows various projected cashflows over a 25 year period. It demonstrates that by the simple act of the council removing its expectation of a profit on the interest charge on the loan to the company, the long-term cashflow projections are positive, and that is the decision that has now been agreed. Your statement about the existence of ‘millions of losses’ is therefore unsubstantiated by either the company accounts or the CIPFA report. However you have succeeded in unnecessarily worrying the New Mill Quarter residents that the company will need to increase its charges to residents to cover those ‘millions of’ losses – a decision that was never proposed by the council.

        Comment by jaynemccoy | December 16, 2021

    • Wow Sheldon, that really is quite low. To have a pop at the mental health of an excellent councillor who is working hard, genuinely trying to make improvements for Sutton is quite poor. Yes some politicians don’t cover themselves with glory, particularly at the moment, however, it is very impressive the work delivered by Jayne McCoy and her passion to improve the area. It’s also fair that as a councillor they should be held to scrutiny, and I see from your socials you are quite a keyboard warrior in that respect. However, if you are going to do so, first of all, get your facts right and secondly don’t be nasty, doing both of these loses all your credibility. I’m sure councillor McCoy will brush these comments off with the contempt they deserve, but please be aware that no matter how much you may disagree with someone politics, resorting to unrelated personal attacks no place within the reasoned debate. I would hope that you are big enough to retract these comments and behave more respectfully in future.

      Comment by Simon Roberts | December 15, 2021 | Reply

      • Hi Robert, as I’ve discussed and as it’s clear, it’s not a pop at anyones mental health, more a genuine concern. I think a bit of you and possibly the Cllr wishes it was something more untoward, something nasty, this might detract from me, trying to solve issues constructively and having a genuine worry about the denial happening here. It’s not been me that has taken attempts to intimidate others after all. The points laid out above clearly list that position and show how Cllr McCoy is either lying about this repeatedly or has constructed an alternate reality. I have tried to work with Cllr McCoy constructively for several years, but she’s either refusing to acknowledge her actions or doesn’t grasp them. The latter is obviously what has given rise to my concern as I find it unlikely an accountant wouldn’t comprehend this matter. I trust if you are in her support network, you can help her through this period. It’s not for me to dictate guilt, but given her role in things and the level of investigations into her actions, we must assume she knows more than what she is letting on, or that indeed she is not seeing this for what it is. I trust you’ll be reaching out to me in due course when the issues become clear and further ramifications are announced. I know I’ll be expecting this from the Cllrs colleagues. I’m both happy and sad to have had such an impact in Sutton in exposing the actions of Cllr McCoy. Glad I achieved it, sad she got herself wrapped up in it.

        Comment by Sheldon Vestey | December 16, 2021

      • Thanks for your kind comments Simon. Sheldon appears to be using a tactic commonly known as gaslighting.

        Comment by jaynemccoy | December 16, 2021

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