Lancaster gets £6.8m funding for leisure centre solar farm

Lancaster City Council has successfully secured £6.8m to significantly reduce CO2 emissions generated by Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.

The funding has come from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), which was launched in autumn 2020 and offers funding for capital energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects.

The money will be used to build a solar farm on the adjacent disused landfill site at Salt Ayre to generate electricity, which in turn will be provided to the leisure centre using a direct wire.

The funding also provides for the replacement of the leisure centre’s gas boilers with air source heat pumps, external LED lighting and upgraded glazing to reduce energy consumption and improve the overall efficiency of the building.

Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.

Salt Ayre currently accounts for approximately one quarter of the council’s direct CO2 emissions and is the single largest CO2 emitter in the council’s building/property portfolio. The scheme will reduce emissions by 439 tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of heating 406 homes across the district.

Coun Kevin Frea, Cabinet member with responsibility for Climate Action, said: “This is a big and bold scheme which used a data-led approach to develop an innovative and creative solution for one of the council’s most challenging sites.

“Salt Ayre is by far the biggest emitter of CO2 of all the council’s buildings, and we anticipate that this scheme alone will reduce the council’s overall carbon footprint by as much as 12% bringing the city council substantially closer to becoming net zero by 2030.

"Not only does it make sense for the environment, it’s a great way of bringing the adjacent landfill site back to productive use.”

Officers are working at pace to deliver the full scheme by September 2021, subject to planning consent. A planning application has been submitted for the solar farm and more details can be found on the planning section of Lancaster City Council’s website. The planning application number is 21/00256/FUL.

In addition to the work at Salt Ayre, the city council is making significant progress on other climate change schemes following its declaration of a Climate Emergency.

The council recently purchased 14 new electric vans for its repairs and maintenance team and later this year will take delivery of its first two electric refuse vehicles. Electric pool cars have also been purchased for work travel, which will be made available to the public during off-peak times via a Co-Wheels car club scheme.

Schemes are also being developed for the installation of solar panels on council buildings and sheltered housing schemes.