Over 100 sports centres have been awarded funding through the £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme

Team GB is set to move up the ‘green medal table’, the government announced today, as it confirmed over 100 sports centres across the country have now secured funding from its £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today released an update on the scheme’s progress, following confirmation in the recent Heat and Building Strategy that a further £1.425bn of funding is to be made available through the scheme over the next three years.

The government said the first phase of the scheme had delivered funding to over 100 sports centres, as well as hundreds of schools, hospitals, libraries and other public buildings, supporting 30,000 green jobs in the process.

The new figures show that the eco-upgrade projects that have been approved for sports centres across the UK should helping slash 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year – the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off UK roads.

The work should also help slash running costs for many cash-strapped local authorities, given leisure centres can account for up to 40 per cent of councils’ direct emissions.

Major projects backed through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme include the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds, where Team GB’s Olympic gold medallist divers Matty Lee and Jack Laugher train. The facility, which has produced seven Olympic gold medallists, received £3m from the scheme, which Leeds City Council used to install a 500kW solar array and large air source heat pumps that will heat the buildings and swimming pools, helping save 445 tonnes of carbon a year and slashing emissions by 61 per cent.

Similarly, the Harrogate Hydro Leisure Centre, where gold medallist Jack Laugher first learned to dive, also received £1.8m to support the installation of 420 solar panels and several heat pumps that will deliver an estimated 577 tonnes of carbon emission savings a year.

And the National Cycling Centre in Manchester is set to get a £2.5m revamp in a bid to slash emissions and energy costs at the home of British Cycling.

The new funding was welcomed by Laugher who said it was “great to know that the pool we dive into is now being kept the perfect temperature in an eco-friendly way, using solar panels and low-carbon heat pumps funded by the government”. 

Speaking on a visit to the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds, Business and Energy Minister, Lord Callanan, said the funding for public sector buildings was helping to accelerate the UK’s economy-wide decarbonisation efforts.

“UK emissions have already taken a dive – halving since 1990, while our economy has grown by 78 per cent,” he said. “We’re decarbonising faster than any other G7 country and any organisation not working to reduce its emissions is swimming against the tide. With over 100 leisure centres being fitted with low carbon technology, our collective efforts are really making a splash – catapulting Britain to the top the ‘green medal table’.”

The latest milestone for the scheme was also welcomed by Swim England chief executive, Jane Nickerson, who said the upgrades are set to deliver significant emissions savings. “Leisure centres can account for as much as 40 per cent of a local authority’s direct carbon emissions,” she said. “Decarbonising these pools and building new, more sustainable pools will play a key role in meeting the UK’s ambitious climate targets.”

The news comes as the government continues to face criticism from environmental groups and local authorities, who argue that while the increased funding for decarbonising public sector buildings is welcome the Treasury is yet to make good on the Conservatives manifesto promise to provide up to £9bn of funding in energy efficiency upgrades over the course of this Parliament. Experts have consistently warned the UK will struggle to meet its emissions targets without a significant acceleration in the rate of building upgrades.

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