CRAVEN Leisure in Skipton is at last benefitting from renewable energy and reduced water heating costs thanks to the switch-on of solar panels and an air source heat pump.

A total of 522 solar panels were installed on the roof of the building in November 2021 and more recently an air source heat pump to heat the swimming pool water was also fitted as part of a European-funded £1.2 million project by the former Craven District Council to reduce bills and carbon emissions at council-owned buildings.

There has been a delay of almost two years because of difficulties in getting the necessary upgrade in electricity supply, but that work, which meant the leisure centre being temporarily closed this week,  has now been carried out.

The investment is due to pay back in 10 years. It is also estimated that the 522 solar panels will save emissions equivalent to planting 2,300 trees or 50 tonnes of carbon every year and the air source heat pump is projected to save a further 97 tonnes of carbon a year, says North Yorkshire Council, which assumed ownership of the centre from the former Craven District Council in April.

Councillor Simon Myers, North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and housing, and member for Mid-Craven, said: “I am delighted that the renewable energy system installed at Craven Leisure is now operational. The delay has been frustrating and expensive at a time of increased energy cost pressures for leisure facilities.

“Swimming pools are expensive to run and these solar panels will go a long way to reducing our energy bills and cutting carbon emissions. In fact, on sunny days, the pool heating and hot water for showers will be almost entirely generated from on-site renewable energy.

“North Yorkshire Council has a commitment to being environmentally friendly and by using renewable energy, we can do our bit by reducing our carbon footprint with the added bonus of reducing our energy costs. Plus, with the cost of living crisis and climate crisis, now is the time to promote more affordable and lower-carbon energy options.”

The council’s corporate director of resources, Gary Fielding, added: “Craven Leisure is among the most significant buildings in the legacy Craven District Council’s estate to get renewable energy systems retrofitted in the past couple of years.

“The equipment was installed in 2021 and 2022. However, delays have been experienced due to needing an upgrade in electricity supply, which could only be completed by Northern Powergrid.

“I am pleased to confirm the upgrade took place earlier this week, enabling the switch-on of the solar panels and the air source heat pump.”