Lewisham Council has taken the first steps to provide a heat network, using energy generated from south-east London’s waste incineration plant.

Lewisham’s mayor and cabinet agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with energy company Veolia to develop a heat network in the borough.

This means the council has a broad agreement with Veolia, but are not committed to any course of action, Lewisham Council officer Martin O’Brien said.

Cabinet member for the community sector Councillor Jonathan Slater said the agreement would be beneficial for Lewisham businesses and residents, and could power up to 7,500 homes.

“The heat network will be from the South East London Combined Heat and Power facility, which is an opportunity to supply heat direct from the borough’s waste, for the benefit of residents and businesses in the borough,” he said.

“Feasibility studies have shown that a heat network could cover 5km and provide heating for up to 7,500 homes.

“The memorandum is also a high level statement of intent that marks an important milestone in a growing partnership with Veolia on this project.

“There is still much work to be done to take this forward.”

Cllr Slater said the scheme would promote sustainability and provide social benefits.

“There is potentially real value in the council being involved, particularly in seeking the approach to go beyond what the market might deliver, to achieve social benefits through low-cost energy, environmental benefits through low-carbon heat and promote a more sustainable community-focussed approach to energy supply.”

Mr O’Brien said the council would not be making any large commitments by entering the agreement, but simply allowing further investigation to take place.

That investigation would then be brought back in front of the mayor and cabinet.

“The memorandum of understanding we have got is broad brushes, it doesn’t commit us to a specific course of action,” he said.

Council officers will now develop a more detailed business case ahead of seeking funding for a potential heat network.