A LEISURE centre in Christchurch is turning to solar panels to heat its swimming pools.

Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex, which is owned and operated by BCP Council, has secured £157,000 funding from Sport England’s Swimming Pool Support Fund for the installation of solar panels.   

With around 10,000 swimmers using both the larger 25-metre and smaller 11-metre pool every month, it’s estimated that Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex will reduce energy usage by 100,000 kWH per annum.

The utility costs are expected to decrease by around 20 per cent, while also reducing the environmental impact of the building.   

This funding forms part of a broader initiative to enhance energy efficiency to further reduce the carbon footprint, with BCP Council funding an additional £600,000 for the upgrade of the pool's maintenance room and air source heat pumps. 

Councillor Mike Cox, portfolio holder for finance at BCP Council, said: “This funding award is great news for Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex as it will help to bring a huge reduction in carbon outputs for the complex, demonstrating our commitment to sustainability and creating a greener future for our community.

"We will also see a substantial financial benefit for the leisure complex through utility cost savings in the future.  

“The reduction of carbon omissions remains one of our priority objectives and we will continue to explore funding opportunities and new technologies to enable us to drive down our environmental impact even further.”   

A further 263 local authorities have also received a share of this funding, with £20m provided by Sport England via the National Lottery and just over £40m provided by the Government as part of their commitment to support the long-term sustainability of public leisure.   

Sports minister Stuart Andrew said:  “I know from personal experience the health benefits of getting down to your local pool, whether that’s just for a few lengths, to swim with friends, or a water aerobics class. 

"This further £60 million of support from the Government and Sport England will make hundreds of swimming pools more energy efficient so they can keep offering their vital community and health benefits for generations to come.”