Hundreds of solar panels proposed for council run leisure centres but who pays asks Cabinet member?

COUNCIL run leisure centres in Fenland could have solar panels put onto their roofs to convert sunlight to electricity.

Planning approval has already been given for 42 panels on one of the rear roof sections of the Manor Leisure Centre at Whittlesey.

Fenland Council also has applications pending for 162 solar panels above the sports hall of the Hudson Leisure Centre at Wisbech and for 140 panels for the roof of the pool at the George Campbell Leisure Centre, March.

Planners who approved the Whittlesey application noted that no “negative responses” had been received and the proposal was in keeping with the Government’s renewable energy targets.

Officers say green energy produced by solar (photovoltaic) panels convert sunlight “a sustainable and free source” to electricity which can then be used to power the leisure centres or fed back into the national grid.

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Councillors, however, have yet to approve a budget for the solar panels to go ahead and a report is expected this summer to Cabinet.

Councillor Kit Owen, the portfolio holder for growth and transport, asked at a recent Cabinet meeting at what cost to Fenland Council and where would the funding come from for the solar panels.

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Councillor John Clark, the portfolio holder for finance, explained that the council had been looking to reduce energy costs because of potential government subsidies. It was thought “prudent” to apply for planning permission but no decision had been made as to whether this will be pursued.

Council Leader Alan Melton said both the costs and whether consent would be given were as yet unknown “but once we receive this it will return to Cabinet.” A separate application to put solar panels on the roof of Fenland Hall, March, has been withdrawn.

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