Wigston Pool to get carbon footprint boost thanks to solar panels

Published: Monday, 25 March 2024

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Oadby & Wigston Borough Council (OWBC) has secured £184,000 of funding to install solar panels on the roof of Wigston Pool and Fitness Centre through the government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF).

Solar panels generate a clean and renewable source of electricity, and once installed the panels are projected to provide more than 40% of the centre’s annual consumption. This will lead to a significant reduction in energy costs, as well as reducing the centre’s carbon footprint.

Both OWBC, who owns the leisure facility, and Everyone Active who manage it, are committed to implementing efficiency measures to reduce the centre’s environmental impact and steps already taken include installing LED sensor lighting and a new building management system, and reducing the pool temperature by one degree.

OWBC is currently in provisional conversations to procure a supplier and start the work to install the panels as soon as possible.

Cllr Bill Boulter, Chair of Service Delivery Committee at OWBC, said: “We’re thrilled that our application was successful, and this is an excellent next step for the council in creating a greener future as we work towards net zero.

“By self-generating almost half of its electricity the centre will also see a substantial reduction in running costs, and become more resilient to fluctuations in energy prices, which in this economic climate offers significant protection to the services it offers.

“The centre plays a pivotal role in the local community and provides a valuable boost to local wellbeing through the fitness facilities, swimming lessons for schools and delivering social prescribing programmes. By building a more sustainable future this offer should continue to thrive, and Wigston Pool and Fitness Centre remain providing users with high quality services and programmes and excellent value for money.”

Peggy Lee, Everyone Active’s Group Sustainability Manager, said: “It is great news that these investments will reduce the centre’s carbon footprint going forward. Everyone Active is proud to work alongside the Council in meeting their Net Zero ambitions, which is the most important part of our own Net Zero Strategy.”

The SPSF fund, delivered by Sport England, has provided a £60m funding package to leisure facilities with pools throughout the country.

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Executive Director – Place at Sport England said: “Swimming pools and leisure centres are vital community resources and are enormously important in helping people to be physically active. Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as local authorities and operators have battled the challenge of increased energy and wider costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff. Sport England is proud of the role we’ve played in supporting these facilities through this difficult period.

“We hope this funding announcement will enable more public pools to improve their energy efficiency to be more environmentally and financially sustainable, so they remain available for future generations to enjoy.”

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Millions of people swim every year in England, but high energy costs mean some pools are struggling financially. I know from personal experience the health benefits of getting down to your local pool, whether that’s just for a few lengths, to swim with friends, or a water aerobics class.

“This further £60 million of support from the Government and Sport England will make hundreds of swimming pools more energy efficient so they can keep offering their vital community and health benefits for generations to come.”