CRAVEN District Council is still waiting to switch on 528 solar panels at Craven Leisure in Skipton — over a year after they were installed.
The solar panels were placed on the roof of the leisure centre in Aireville Park in November 2021 as part of a £1.2m project to reduce carbon emissions at the council’s buildings.
But the council says it is still awaiting confirmation from energy distributor Northern Powergrid before they can be used, meaning the solar panels have not generated a single electron of renewable energy.
An air source heat pump that was installed in 2022 to heat the swimming pool has also not been turned on.
Over the last year, the price of energy has rocketed. A recent council meeting heard how gas and electric bills at Craven Leisure have increased by 124 per cent.
David Noland, Green Party councillor for Skipton North, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he is frustrated by the delay.
He said: “They are sat in place so it’s a huge problem for the council. Swimming pools are very expensive to run and these solar panels will go a long way to cutting carbon emissions. Everybody is frustrated at the delay — from the councillors who voted for the project to the officers who have done the hard work.”
A report published last month revealed the authority is set to spend an extra £631,000 on energy bills at its buildings, including Craven Leisure, which is one of its largest.
Chairman of Craven District Council, Simon Myers, said the council has written to government ministers and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak regarding support for energy bills at the leisure centre.
A spokesperson for Craven District Council admitted the authority does not know when the solar panels will be turned on.
The spokesperson said:“Craven Leisure is among the most significant buildings in Craven District Council’s estate to get renewable energy systems retrofitted in the past couple of years.
“Craven Leisure centre’s energy usage is high due to nature of the facility and services provided. In 2021, the leisure centre saw the installation of 528 solar panels as part of the council’s £1.2m Zero Carbon Craven project. The delay is caused by a third party, we are yet to receive a firm date for the final stages of the project.
“Council officers are proactive and reached out to all parties involved, but we cannot continue without the confirmation from Northern Powergrid. We will endeavour to complete this project as soon as we can.”
A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said: “We cannot comment on an individual customer’s connection request due the commercial nature of these requests. Delivering a new network connection involves a range of steps from design and planning to delivery. In many cases, this can also require securing access and agreement to work on other people’s land to enable the connection. Throughout the process our team keeps our customers updated on any situations where agreement with other parties is required and the status of it.
“Work can only start once all the necessary permissions are in place. Our wayleave team seeks to secure these for our customers as soon as possible. Customers are also able to directly approach any third-party landowners to discuss or secure a direct agreement that can help enable their connection, should they wish to do so.”