Riders Junior School in Havent has received a free solar installation as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Eco-Schools Solar programme.

The programme allows schools to have solar panels installed, maintained and decommissioned at no cost to the school or local authority and is intended to help schools improve eco-performance and aid environmental education.

The 74 solar photovoltaic panels are expected to produce a quarter of the school’s electrical requirements and help play a decisive role in reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

Head teacher John Dean said: ‘It’s exciting to be part of this project. We encourage the children to be aware of issues and be eco-friendly, and they have been made aware of the progress that we have made.

However, the announcement by the Government to slash the feed-in tariff from December 12 nearly jeopardised the scheme. The solar array had to be installed on the weekend over December 9 and 10, just days before the 12/12 cut off date. 

Dean added: “It’s sad the Government pulled the plug on the project but we were lucky to get in time.”

The school has already cut its electricity consumption by 10 percent following a drive by staff and pupils to practice energy saving measures.

Dean concluded: “It’s good to be part of the eco-movement and it’s good for the children to be a part of that. Apart from learning, it’s about making them aware of the importance of the environment.”

Andrew Suter, Keep Britain Tidy’s Eco Schools Programme Manager, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to reap the benefits of solar power, to look at energy supply and reduce energy bills and a carbon footprint at the same time.”