Spatial policy for 4DHC

This report is about the spatial policies in the countries of the HeatNet pilots: the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Belgium, the UK and Scotland. It provides an overview of the relevant spatial policies and legislation in relation to the development of District Heating and Cooling (DHC) networks. The report is organized as follows. It starts with the similar spatial policies within the considered countries, followed by specific issues and legislation for each country.

In most of the selected countries, the DHC relevant legislation is in the process of change, ought to change in order to fit and accommodate DHC - or is outright insufficiently compatible for DHC networks. All NWE countries have more or less integrated permitting regimes. Moreover, a large body of EU environmental legislation is transposed and valid within the national legislation framework, hence creating comparable conditions within the selected countries in this report. In its essence, heat- and cooling networks are infrastructural projects, which have to deal with or are characterized by:

  • intimately linked to municipal or inter-municipal urban developments;
  • spatially aligned with road networks that connects neighbourhoods;
  • density depended for it economic viability - as well as the use of buildings and their depreciation over long periods, comparable to those of most urban infrastructures.

In addition, heating networks could be defined as a local public utility - that of district heating, which would provide the elementary infrastructure (boiler rooms, pipes, substations etc.) with a special status, simplifying the complex processes in regard to planning rules. However, none of the NWE countries defines DHC as a public utility (yet), resulting in the lack of benefits other public utility services have. Moreover, this can complicate crossing or building adjacent to canals, railways, highways, etc., mainly as unfamiliarity with DHC stokes fear of possible damages. Crossing country borders with DHC is not possible yet.

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