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Leisure centres to be greener thanks to £6m funding

Air Source Heat Pumps, solar panels and other energy efficiency measures will be installed at Wantage Leisure Centre and the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon.

Vale of White Horse District Council was successful in its bid for the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and has been awarded £5,992,916 in funding which will finance these projects.

Wantage Leisure Centre will have new roof insulation with solar panels added, new windows that will keep the heat in more effectively, installation of Air Source Heat Pumps, and the building will have exterior wall insulation fitted.

The White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre will have solar panels added to the roof, and the boiler room will also have Air Source Heat Pumps installed.

Once completed, the measures are expected to reduce the council’s overall carbon emissions by over 25 per cent and decrease energy use at the two sites by over 3,935,000 kWh, equivalent to the average energy use of 264 houses.

As well as reducing carbon emissions, the cash spent now will reap financial rewards in the future as the centres will run more efficiently making them more economically viable.

In addition to the government grant, other funding for the project will come from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – money from new developments in the area which goes towards local infrastructure.  Oxfordshire County Council will also contribute to the Wantage project as local schools regularly use the centre. 

This project also reflects two of the council’s key Corporate Plan priorities – tackling the Climate Emergency and building healthy communities.

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “This work shows how important the health and wellbeing of our residents is to us. It proves our long-term commitment to making sure that residents have access to facilities like these in the Vale and that they stay here for many years to come.”

Cllr Sally Povolotsky, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “The impact of this work on our targets to tackle the climate emergency is huge.

“Replacing end-of-life gas boilers with energy efficient air source heat pumps through these two projects will reduce our carbon emissions by over 25 per cent. The decarbonisation project in Faringdon is near completion so we really are leading the way in our drive to become carbon neutral within our own operations by 2030.”