Ambitious plans to make Clydebank the “greenest town in Scotland” have taken another step forward after councillors agreed a deal to purchase land to build a District Heating Network energy centre.

Councillors agreed to release £450,000 to buy the required land from Clydeside Regeneration Limited (CRL) during a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s infrastructure, regeneration & economic development (IRED) committee this week.

Planning permission for the energy centre was granted in December with work expected to commence in early 2018 and the Network being commissioned by the end of 2018 and generating heat by early 2019.

It will serve the entire Queens Quay site with potential to expand into the wider Clydebank area.

The energy centre will power the District Heating Network from the site of the former John Brown’s shipyard. The network is part of a wider £250 million regeneration of the area and will see water extracted from the River Clyde through heat pumps and directed to businesses and homes via insulated pipes to be used for heating.

Up to 200 rented homes are being developed on the site by registered social landlords alongside 1000 private homes, and all will benefit from the new system. A number of public buildings may also receive their heating supply via this method, including West College Scotland, Clydebank’s new leisure centre, the new care home and health centre at the site, council offices at Aurora House, the Titan Business Centre, the Town Hall and Clydebank Library.

The IRED committee heard at this week’s meeting how the Network could be expanded into the wider Clydebank area in the coming years and how lessons learned at this stage could even be used to create similar heating schemes elsewhere in West Dunbartonshire.

Councillor Iain McLaren, convener of IRED, said: “We are delighted that the committee agreed the purchase of the land, which really marks the final big step in this incredibly important and ambitious project. With planning permission in place and the purchase of the land for the energy centre agreed, work can start on this first phase of the District Heating Network. I want to thank all of the council officers who have worked so hard behind the scenes to get this deal done.”

The District Heating Network will also make a major contribution towards the council’s climate change targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% over the next seven years.

Councillor Diane Docherty, vice convener of IRED, added: “As well as providing heat to homes and businesses in Queens Quay, the District Heating Network will allow the council to generate an income from the sale of energy and to expand the project throughout Clydebank. Being able to offer a discounted tariff to residents will also have a positive impact on tackling fuel poverty.”