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Oxford Council invests in greener leisure centres

Public leisure centres in Oxford are getting £10.9m investment in decarbonisation, as part of the City Council’s plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Council Cabinet confirmed that Ferry Leisure, Barton Leisure, Leys Pool and Leisure and Hinksey Outdoor Pool will benefit from the decarbonisation programme.

Leisure centres contribute around 40% of the City Council’s carbon footprint, with swimming pools one of the most energy-intensive facilities as they must be kept at a constant temperature.

The work will see gas boilers be replaced with heat pumps, cutting carbon emissions from the Council’s operations as a whole by around 21%.

people near swimming pool

Cllr Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and zero-carbon Oxford, said: ‘Leisure centres provide essential services for our residents’ wellbeing, but they are currently a big contributor to the council’s carbon footprint. These works will reduce Oxford City Council’s own carbon footprint by more than a quarter which is vital as we work towards a zero-carbon council, and a zero-carbon Oxford.

‘This will be good for residents’ wellbeing as well as the planet. We all need to play our part in tackling the climate crisis and I’d ask residents for their support and patience while we help get our leisure centres fit for a low carbon city.’

Cllr Mary Clarkson, cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, added: ‘The decarbonisation programme will secure the low-carbon future of our public leisure centres. We are committed to providing high-quality leisure facilities to provide exercise and wellbeing opportunities for residents. Our centres are in the heart of the communities where they are needed and offer affordable membership and discounts.’

The initial plan was to replace the heating systems at six sites, including the Ice Rink and Rose Hill Community Centre, but preliminary work over the summer indicated that this would not be possible given the cost and complexity of the undertaking.

Photo by Albert Hyseni

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