Concerns have been raised that Bradford Council may be “chasing rainbows” by pursuing a green energy plan for a number of city centre buildings.

Plans for a Civic Quarter District Heat Scheme date back five years, and call for a new city centre heat network to be built, supplying low carbon heat on commercial terms to city centre civic buildings, other public sector buildings and commercial properties.

Originally the development was budgeted at around £8 million, but it has since risen to £11.5 million.

The project has suffered a number of setbacks. Originally the energy centre was due to be based at a planned city centre swimming pool. However, the plans for the pool, in Nelson Street, have since been dropped, and the site was sold to the Department for Education to build New College Bradford.

The project was discussed by members of the Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, where members raised concerns about the lack of progress with the scheme.

They were told that the scheme was still progressing, and a new site had been identified - although it could not be revealed for confidentiality reasons.

Some of the scheme would be paid for through green energy grants, and would use energy production methods such as biomass burning to produce energy for nearby buildings. The process would release much less carbon into the city’s atmosphere than existing energy provisions - a reduction of around 10 per cent per year.

Members of the committee were told that the network would provide power for civic buildings including City Hall, the Alhambra and the courts buildings. Other “interested parties” include Provident and Jury’s Inn. Future projects to be powered by the scheme include the Odeon and the proposed office development One City Park.

Councillor Ralph Berry said: “Five years is a long time to pursue a project. I’m not trying to be negative, but we want to be assured that as a Council we’re not chasing rainbows. A business case that looked good five years ago might not look so good now. Will we have enough customers now? I want to make sure we don’t go chasing something we always wanted if the world has moved on and it isn’t worth it any more.”

Neill Morrison, energy and low carbon manager, said the proposed office development of One City Park was one of the buildings that would be heated by the scheme, and said: “I was in discussions with one of the planned bidders for that project the other day. They approached me because they wanted to make sure that site will be included in this project.

“This project is still live, it is still relevant.”

The committee were told that a full business case for the scheme was being developed in the coming months.