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Council leisure centres power their way to climate change solution

Posted by Communications on 24 December 2021 | Comments

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are halfway through installing £2.8m worth of green energy measures at their leisure centres – providing the centres with renewable energy and slashing CO2 emissions.

Works have completed this week to install a mixture of both solar PV panels and an air source heat pump, at the councils’ leisure centres and depot in Wenham, in line with their climate change ambitions.

The council-owned sites and measures include:

  • Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, Stowmarket (500 solar panels generating 195 kW as well as an air source heat pump and air handling unit)
  • Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre (104 solar panels generating 40.6 kW)
  • Hadleigh Pool and Leisure (380 solar panels generating 148.2 kW)
  • Kingfisher Leisure Centre, Sudbury (294 solar panels generating 111.7 kW)
  • Wenham Depot (56 solar panels generating 21.8kW)

The changes, carried out by CorEnergy, enable the centres to reduce their demand on the energy grid and begin to transition away from fossil-fuelled heating systems, by powering them with renewables.

They are expected to save 269.9 tonnes of CO2e per year - a 5.6% reduction in the councils’ annual carbon emissions – as well as reduce the total amount of energy needed to run the centres.

Works were made possible thanks to £1.4m in funding from the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which supports capital energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects within public sector non-domestic buildings.

The councils also received a £25k Government Low Carbon Skills Fund grant to carry out feasibility work to determine the most appropriate measures for each site.

Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi, cabinet member for climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable transport at Babergh District Council, said:

“This is another major step and milestone towards achieving the actions set out in our Carbon Reduction Management Plan – helping to make Babergh greener and cleaner.

“Decarbonising some of our major assets like our leisure centres moves us one step closer to our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030, while also supporting improved health and wellbeing for our communities.”

Cllr Jessica Fleming, cabinet member for environment at Mid Suffolk District Council, said:

“We want to continue setting an example for our district when it comes to reducing carbon emissions – and this work is a vital step in that process.

“Our leisure centres are our second largest source of CO2e - so putting in place measures which use less energy and heat, and making them more self-sufficient is crucial if we’re to reach our carbon ambitions over coming years.”

The next £1.4m investment to install trial solar carport technology at two of the centres - providing further additional power to the centres, EV charging points and reduced emissions - is due to be completed in Spring 2022.

All the councils’ leisure centres were moved to certified green energy tariffs back in April 2021 – marking a further step in their Carbon Reduction Management Plan.

Partner quotes

Tracey Loynds, development director at Abbeycroft Leisure, said:

“We welcome the council’s latest introduction of green energy measures at Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Hadleigh Pool and Leisure, helping to provide the centres with renewable electricity.

“Sustainable solutions such as these are innovative and warmly received by our members as well.”

Anselm Gurney, partnership manager at Everyone Active, which runs Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre, said:

“We are proud that our centres will be playing their part in tackling climate change, while continuing to provide top-quality exercise facilities for local communities.

“We believe these significant additions will make a real difference for many years to come.”

Tom Griffin, director at CorEnergy Limited – a Sureserve Group Company, said:

“The site upgrades enable the councils to deliver a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions and helps set the standard for decarbonising public buildings.

“CorEnergy was proud to have been awarded the multi-site design and build contract for air-sourced heating and solar PV which directly supported employment in the local community."