Solar panels project backed

Elwick Parish Councillor Hilary Thompson
Elwick Parish Councillor Hilary Thompson

COUNCILLORS have backed an “ambitious” scheme to install solar panels on the roofs of council-owned buildings in a bid to save money and slash carbon emissions.

The photo-voltaic (PV) panels will be installed on about a dozen Hartlepool Borough Council buildings after the cabinet committee agreed to borrow up to £646,000 to finance the scheme.

The council is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 124 tonnes a year and save money by installing the panels on some of its properties to generate electricity.

If approved, the local authority could save up to £36,000 a year in energy bills once the loan repayments have been paid.

Council officers came up with the proposals to tap into the government’s “feed-in tariff” that rewards organisations which generate their own renewable electricity.

It will also help the council achieve its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 21 per cent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “This is exactly the type of scheme that we have been talking about for the past couple of years.

“This ticks all of the boxes.”

The other option open to the cabinet committee was to grant a licence to a private operator to install PV panels on council buildings in return for an annual rent.

But councillors said they would rather not work with a third party.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, said: “I think it is right that we do this in house using the expertise within the council rather than let it got to a third party.”

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson said: “This is just the sort of ambitious scheme that could bring income into our coffers and reduce carbon emissions.

“I think we should go ahead and do this.”

Councillors were told that the panels could be in place before the end of the year.

Officers are currently carrying out an assessment of council-owned buildings to see which are suitable for the panels.

The review is considering a number of factors including the height of buildings, strength of the roofs, risk of vandalism and if there are any planning constraints.

An update report will be presented to a future cabinet meeting.