Winchester City Council Roof Solar Leisure Centre
Leisure centre allocated £400,000 for solar PV installation in Gainsborough. Image: Winchester City Council

The West Lindsey District Council has announced that its leisure centre has been allocated £401,500 of funding from the UK government to install hundreds of solar panels.

Located in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, the West Lindsey Leisure Centre was awarded the funding as part of the government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund in its second phase, aiming to make buildings more energy efficient.

The funding will be used to install 545 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the swimming pool roof, saving 221 MWh of annual energy production.

In November 2019, the district council decided to make the council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2050, which includes the leisure centre.

This involves changing to more energy-efficient equipment, including LED lighting, variable speed drive, water-saving devices, and lighting sensors, and reducing energy wastage through the installation of pool covers.

Chair of the prosperous communities committee at the council, Councillor Lesley Rollings, said: “The installation of PV panels not only aligns with the council’s commitment to sustainability, but this investment will kickstart efforts to ‘future-proof’ provision at the leisure centre, creating an eco-friendly facility.

“The changes will reduce CO2 emissions and reduce energy bills, ensuring the leisure centre remains a vibrant hub for recreation and wellness for residents of all ages across our district.”

Councils in stride

Other councils across the UK have taken strides to help their activity centres reach net-zero goals, be that via central government schemes and funding or local community efforts.

In February 2024, Exeter City Council confirmed that 700 council homes in the region had been retrofitted with low-carbon technologies, including solar PV.

The retrofits form part of Exeter City Council’s energy-efficiency retrofit programme, which secured £4.1 million in funding, including through a central government funding package. The council expects more than 200 additional properties to benefit in the upcoming year as its retrofit programme continues to aid council housing.

More recently, Wiltshire Council announced the opening of a solar car park (SCP) at its own leisure centre, the Five Rivers Health & Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury.

The SCP aims to contribute more than 10% of the Five Rivers Centre’s electricity demand with its three gullwing solar canopies generating a combined total capacity of approximately 220 kWp with 186MWh expected to be produced in the first year.

The new SCP structure is also made from Glulam, renewable, recyclable wood laminations bonded together to offer a natural alternative to steel or concrete, which has a minimal environmental impact from its production, is highly repairable, and is an excellent biofuel at the end of its life, further minimising waste.