Sutton Council still has not signed its key developer up to its own energy network two months after launching the scheme, which it claimed could provide heat for 19,000 homes.

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In November the council launched the Sutton decentralised energy network (SDEN), which will use heat from the planned Beddington incinerator to provide low-carbon energy for homes signed up to the scheme.

The authority was hoping developers from Sutton, Croydon and Merton would be queuing to sign up for the scheme but so far it has been unable to sign up its major player Barratt Homes, the developer of 725 new homes on the nearby Felnex site in Hackbridge.

Construction of the network is set to begin this year with heat delivered to homes in the Felnex site by spring 2017, according to the council’s business plan.

Leader of the opposition, Councillor Tim Crowley said: “They will have zero success [with the scheme] if they don’t get Barratts to sign up, they need them to be the prime mover.

“Where are these 19,000 homes they said they could provide for?

“They haven’t even started on Felnex yet, there hasn’t even been a spade in the ground.

“One of the problems they have got now is the price of energy coming down at the moment, they are trying to negotiate with Barratts at the bottom of the market.

“They need a high unit price to make this work, they can’t force people into buying this energy if it is too high because it will be anticompetitive.

“At the moment it is still pie in the sky, until they actually put pipes in the ground and sign a contract I won’t believe it is happening.”

Paul Kitchingman, development director for Barratts Kent branch said: “We are in detailed discussions with Sutton Council about the SDEN.

“We are committed to delivering a sustainable and high quality development and are happy to support the concept and principle. “There is much detail to work through with the council and any decision must ensure that our future residents have a secure supply that is robust in terms of longevity and is commercially fair and comparable with alternative traditional energy supply arrangements.”

A Sutton council spokesman said: “Nothing has held up the deal as we have not previously provided a date by which we will sign that has passed.

“The 19,000 homes was just an illustration of the potential number of homes that could be heated by the energy recovery facility.

“The timescale for using this amount of heat will be dependent on a large number of factors such as the speed of new developments and which customers sign up.

“We have taken energy price variations into account in the sensitivities used in our modelling. Developers will not sign up if the heat is too expensive.”

In April last year the council came under fire after leaked documents revealed residents who moved into the Felnex site would be locked into SDEN contracts.

At the time the documents, prepared by council officers, advised councillors to “remain firm” over its expected 14.16p per Kilowatt tariff, almost 3p more than Sainsbury’s 11.7p charge at the time.

The £200m incinerator will deal 302,000 tonnes of waste per year from Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Kingston under the South London Waste Partnership.