PETROC College in North Devon is to get a new environmentally friendly heating system after pressure from students to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

The college will replace the fossil fuel-based heat network at its Barnstaple campus with an air source heat pump system.

A typical air source heat pump installation.
A typical air source heat pump installation. (Picture courtesy of North Devon Council.)

North Devon Council gave consent for the 900kW system which will support 95 per cent of the campus’s heating demands, providing a non-polluting and sustainable energy source.

Petroc, which supports 11,000 students across its Barnstaple (Sticklepath) and Tiverton campuses, has a target to become carbon neutral by 2035.

In planning documents it says that tackling the climate emergency is one of the five themes in its strategic plan, and that it will address its carbon emissions in line with this and “increasing pressure from students”.

The North Devon site covers eight hectares and is mostly made up of educational buildings. The air source heat pumps and energy centre will be located on the site of the former Eco House as it is away from residential properties and “provides the lowest visual and environmental impact”.

The development will be supported by a thermal battery connected to an approved solar installation. The units will be around three metres high and the thermal store six metres high, and be screened by taller buildings on all sides.

Planning policy dictates that low carbon technologies or renewable heat will be supported and encouraged where appropriate.

Officers said the proposal would contribute to working towards net zero by 2035:  The report says: “The inclusion of the air source heat pump unit will achieve this aim allowing Petroc to provide alternative means of low carbon energy whereas it currently relies on fossil fuel consumption at present.”

The plans were supported by Tawstock Parish Council and environmental officers.

Alison Stephenson