Wiltshire leisure centers become carbon neutral

Heat pumps and solar panels have helped three Wiltshire leisure centers become carbon neutral.

Installations took place at Five Rivers in Salisbury, Springfield Campus in Corsham and the Olympiad in Chippenham.

It has been funded by government grants and puts Wiltshire Council on track to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Councilor Ian Blair-Pilling said the centers were “integral” and that council should “lead by example” by improving its environmental footprint.

Five Rivers is one of 20 leisure centers owned and operated by Wiltshire Council.

It now has one of the largest air source heat pumps in the country and is expected to generate around £140,000 of electricity a year through its solar panels.

The heat pump works much like a fridge that works in reverse, transferring heat from the outside air to the water, which can then heat rooms via radiators or underfloor heating.

The air source heat pumps at Five Rivers

Five Rivers’ air source heat pumps are among the largest in the country

It can also heat water stored in a hot water tank for hot taps, showers and baths.

The pump uses less electricity than the heat it produces, making it more energy efficient.

Wiltshire Council’s Blair-Pilling said it was a “big step” to be able to shut down the gas at the Five Rivers site.

“Having that ability to generate power under our control must be a good thing for the future,” he added.

Phil McMullen, from the council's energy team

Phil McMullen, from the council’s energy team, said other councils were eager to follow suit

Phil McMullen, from Council’s energy team, said he was “quite happy” with the panels and pumps.

“We’ve had several other councils reach out to us who want to come and see what we’ve done here and ask questions about how they can make it themselves.”

However, not everyone has been so lucky.

At the Link Center in Swindon they are reducing their opening hours to save money after their energy costs have dropped from around £600,000 a year to £1.4m.

Barnaby Rich, of Greenwich Leisure Limited

Barnaby Rich said the Link Center had to reduce its opening hours due to energy costs

Barnaby Rich, of Greenwich Leisure Limited who manage the centre, said: ‘Unfortunately there are swimming pools which will be closing this winter as people cannot afford to run them.

“We have no plans to close our pools. We are doing everything we can to control consumption.

“We are doing everything we can to reduce our costs and will weather this storm through the winter.”

The work was funded through the government’s public sector decarbonisation programme.

It provides grants to public sector entities to finance heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures.

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