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Residents at Victoria Point in Ashford hit out at ‘inefficient’ heat network ‘causing

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People living in a new-build block of flats say its “inefficient” green energy system is making their bills much higher than they should be.

The 200 apartments at Victoria Point in Ashford are on a communal heat network, with each individual home connected to one central boiler.

Residents at Victoria Point in Ashford say they would never have moved in if they knew they would have so many issues with the building’s heat network

But residents say the building is always boiling hot and they would never have moved in had they known how much they would have been forking out for heating – including covering payments missed by their neighbours.

Victoria Point’s billing agent Ginger Energy admits that for every three units of gas paid for, two disappear into the atmosphere, due to the inefficiency of heat networks.

One resident, Adrian Esse, told KentOnline: “The heat is literally pouring out of the pipes and we can’t do anything about it.”

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It comes as the government is banning gas boilers in new-build homes from 2025, meaning it will be a mandatory requirement for low-carbon heating systems to be fitted instead.

But those living at Victoria Point – where a two-bed is currently on sale for £365,000 – say more needs to be done to regulate their energy bills, as they feel their monthly charges are “inherently wrong”.

Resident Adrian Esse has rallied together residents at the Ashford block of flats who are unhappy about discrepancies in their bills

This includes a £1.76 per apartment fee for “bad debt” collection covering other residents’ missed payments.

They also have to pay for debt management, billing fees and standing charges which mount up to £15.77 per apartment each month – before their usage is even added on.

Mr Esse, who moved into the block in January 2021, has rallied together a group of neighbours who are unhappy about the discrepancies in their bills and are calling for improvements to the heat network.

The 44-year-old told KentOnline: “They say because we are a community, we should pay for it as a collective, which I think is inherently wrong.

“If people don’t pay, we all pay for it.

One of the communal areas at Victoria Point

“If I had known any of this would be the case before, I would never have moved in.”

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Mr Esse says his first bill – which arrived after he had been living there for six months – was about £400 and then the charges began to “creep up and up”.

“I was told for every unit we use, they use three which means two units of heat disappear into the atmosphere but we are still billed for those,” he said.

“It’s because there isn’t enough insulation in the building. The top floors are so much hotter as you go up.”

Fifty-six-year-old resident Yasmin says her bills in the winter are about £180 a month, which she argues is far too high for a small, energy-efficient flat.

Victoria Point resident Yasmin says regulations for green energy systems such as heat networks should be brought in sooner rather than later

“With the energy crisis, I expected the bills to go up but they went up way more than we expected. They tripled,” she said.

She is also against having to pay more to cover the debts of other residents.

She added: “It’s the government which has said all new-builds need to have heat networks, so they should be monitoring it.

“There should be an ombudsman who monitors this and makes it fair for the tenants.”

A heat network is said to be one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating.

Yet despite the building being only three years old, it has now been awarded a government grant worth £21,600 to help find ways to make the network more efficient.

Mike David Markham, 21, and Dylan Roberts, 18, moved out of their family homes and into their studio apartment at Victoria Point six months ago.

After a month of living there, they noticed that despite “barely using” their heating, they received an invoice in January for £92.26.

Dylan Roberts and Mike David Markham moved into Victoria Point in December

Mr Markham said: “We live in a studio flat so it’s one room. It has two radiators and that’s it.

“I feel like we are being made fools of.

“When I came to view the flat, there was no mention of the heat network.

“Our heating is off yet it is always boiling hot.

“I’m fully prepared to pay for the heat I use, but if Joe Bloggs two floors up hasn’t paid for his heat, why am I paying for it? It’s not right.

“We are six months into a one-year tenancy. If it keeps up, it will drive us away.”

Damion Francis, who lives with puppy Rogue, says his bills “shot up” six months ago and that Ginger Energy told him he was “paying for other unpaid bills that were not mine”.

The 32-year-old said: “It’s not stated that’s the case when you move here.”

Victoria Point resident Damion Francis with puppy Rogue

He pays about £30 a month as the hallways are “so hot” it warms his flat so he doesn’t need to turn his heating on.

Mr Francis says there are also a number of issues with the building’s maintenance he is waiting to be fixed, including faulty intercoms, outdoor lights, garage doors and a lack of CCTV cameras.

“I don’t feel like we get good value for money,” he added.

The government says heat networks are “a crucial part of how the UK will reach its net-zero targets as they are one of the most cost-effective ways of decarbonising heating in built-up areas”.

But currently, heat networks, including the one in Victoria Point, are only 35% to 45% efficient, meaning 55% to 65% of energy is lost before it even…



Read More: Residents at Victoria Point in Ashford hit out at ‘inefficient’ heat network ‘causing

2024-06-10 04:00:00

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