Northumberland leisure centres go green with energy efficiency works scheduled next month

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A scheme to install solar panels onto Active Northumberland Leisure Centres, cutting electricity bills and reducing their carbon footprint, is due to start next month.

The solar panels will be fitted to Blyth Sports Centre, Prudhoe Waterworld and Wentworth Sports Centre in Hexham.

The panels are set to generate 538,756 kWh per year, by turning light energy from the sun into electricity which will equate to around £70k of annual savings.

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Mark Warnes, chief executive of Active Northumberland said: “This investment represents a great deal for the council and Active Northumberland as the centres are costly to heat and to run.

Willowburn Leisure Centre in Alnwick.Willowburn Leisure Centre in Alnwick.
Willowburn Leisure Centre in Alnwick.

“The solar panels will help to make them more energy efficient and reduce energy bills while providing zero-carbon clean energy, which is great for the local environment.”

Another green initiative is to take place at Willowburn Leisure Centre in Alnwick. The centre already has solar panels fitted and is now set to have a ground source heat pump system installed.

This system will harness the natural heat from underground by pumping water through it in pipes. While they do need electricity to run, they use less electrical energy than the heat they produce.

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Over the past two years a major £1m investment scheme has seen the refurbishment, repair or replacement of the swimming pool operating plant in six swimming pools, replacing it with more energy efficient and environmentally friendly equipment.

The swimming pools that have undergone improvement works are Rothbury, Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick, Wentworth Leisure Centre in Hexham, Prudhoe Waterworld, Blyth Sports Centre and Concordia in Cramlington.

The Active Northumberland green schemes are just part of a wider programme of work the council is planning in a bid to tackle the climate emergency and make Northumberland the first county in the UK to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The authority has developed a Climate Change Action Plan for 2021-23 which outlines how it aims to reduce the council's carbon emissions in half by 2025. Initiatives include the installation of renewable heat and power solutions in council buildings and introducing a green fleet of electric council vehicles.

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