Lancaster City Council saves £370k at one leisure centre in green energy drive

Lancaster Town Hall
Lancaster Town Hall -Credit:Robbie MacDonald LDRS

Thousands of pounds have been saved by Lancaster City Council in activities to address climate change and energy consumption, councillors have heard.

Over £370,000 has been saved in energy costs at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, linked to solar power; and £24,000 saved in travel expenses through an electric car sharing scheme, which the public can use too. And the council's work on better home energy and housing design will benefit residents and has influenced national government and planners, it has been said.

Green Coun Gina Dowding gave an annual climate action report to the full council. She is a cabinet member with a climate focus. A range of projects include a planned solar farm at Burrow Beck and activity for Williamson Park, the City Lab offices in Lancaster and The Storey arts, café and office venue.

Coun Dowding said the council was ranked the UK's best district council for sustainability activity in October by the Climate Emergency UK organisation. The council was also featured on Channel 4 TV with presenter Kevin McLoud and in national award schemes.


Councillors or council officers have worked with other councils, MPs, government and planning inspectors on energy efficiency, design and planning projects. And bids have been successful for government funds, she said.


She reported: "The city council has been at the forefront of the national and local climate action agenda. Bold decision-making and exciting projects have resulted in Lancaster earning a reputation as one of the national leaders regarding climate action."

Regarding Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, she stated; "Council officers have created a new dashboard, displayed at the leisure centre and council website, with live energy data updated every 30 minutes from Salt Ayre and the solar array. Accumulative financial savings were £376,000. The council has also saved in excess of 1,300 tonnes of CO2 from natural gas at Salt Ayre."

A car sharing scheme called Co-Wheels Car Pool has provided council staff with access to 14 electric vehicles. Cars have been used by over 78 staff, for around 54,000 miles, saving the council over £24,000 in mileage claims. Nearly ten tonnes of CO2 have been saved through electric vehicles. The cars can be used by the public too, particularly at weekends, with over 19,000 miles travelled over 12 months.


The city council featured in a Channel Four TV documentary, The Great Climate Fight in the autumn. And that led to changes among government and national planning inspector views on aiming for better home energy standards.

Coun Dowding added: "The response to the TV programme was overwhelmingly positive. Shortly afterwards, the government withdrew a 2015 Written Ministerial Statement, which had been fundamental to a planning inspector’s previous conclusions. A new statement was published. Whilst this is still not as proactive as it should be, it has allowed the inspector to reconsider the city council’s issue and accept in principle, subject to consultation, Lancaster’s proposed higher energy-efficiency standards.

"This achievement is not to be underestimated. Our officers’ efforts in fighting for better [standards] will no doubt have influenced other councils to do the same. Unchallenged, it would have led to a poorer quality of housing in the Lancaster district compared to some other areas,. And it would have had a direct impact on fuel poverty and health inequality here."

The challenge has also led to a principal planning officer being recognised by The Planner magazine as a Women of Influence, The city council has been short-listed for various local government magazine awards.