Rural homes heated by oil need more help from the electricity operator to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives, a leading councillor has said.

Roger Atterwill, who leads the three-strong group of independent members on Breckland Council, told officials from UK Power Networks they needed to be “more proactive” in ensuring homes across the district are fit for the future.

At a meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny commission on Thursday, September 8, Mr Atterwill said: “In Breckland, I found out recently through some research that we have about 16,500 homes that currently use oil central heating.

“Oil central heating is going to go the same way as coal. We need to get rid of that, because it’s not sustainable.

“I think most of those homes will end up with some kind of air source heat pump, electric heating, electric boilers etc.

“There’s also the need for electric charging points for vehicles. That’s the way of the world, that’s the way it’s heading and you guys know that.”

He added that while he was pleased to hear that the operator would react to a customer who had a 60-amp single phase fuse at their rural, domestic property, he urged them to seek out those people themselves.

“Sometimes that just means your engineers come out, look at the overhead network and you upgrade the service fuse,” said Mr Atterwill.

“But I think you need to be more proactive to get those houses up to speed, so they’ve all got a minimum of 100amp supply."

He suggested that the operator use their detailed data on the supply standard in each home to make visits to those homes without having to be asked.

Ian Turpin, the operator’s strategic planning engineer for Norfolk, said UK Power Networks had asked for funding for such an initiative - to create an off-grid gas reinforcement network.

“We’ve asked for just over £50m worth of investment, so quite a big investment. We haven’t got approval for that from Ofgem yet.

“[With] the draft determination, there were positive signals [from Ofgem], but we need to get confirmation.

“I think there’s approximately 240,000 homes [that are] off-grid [from] gas in the eastern area [of England].

“We would hope to become more proactive if we get this investment through the next five years.”