Banbury’s swimming pool emissions take a dive thanks to new technology

Woodgreen and Spiceball Leisure Centres have both received upgrades to lower carbon emissions as part of Cherwell District Councils’ decarbonisation work

The outdoor pool at Woodgreen leisure centre (photo from the Woodgreen Leisure Centre Facebook page)
The outdoor pool at Woodgreen leisure centre (photo from the Woodgreen Leisure Centre Facebook page)

New technology has helped to reduce carbon emissions at council-run swimming pools in Banbury.

The energy used to heat its swimming pools has historically been one of the biggest sources of Cherwell District Council’s carbon emissions, but recent upgrades now mean that the leisure centre is set to save 785 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) every year.

The outdoor pool at the Woodgreen Leisure Centre is being kept balmy for swimmers by one of the largest solar thermal installations of its kind in the UK. Cherwell District Council’s three other public pools, including the Spiceball Leisure Centre, are being kept warm by new air source heat pumps, as part of the council’s goal to reach net zero.

Air source heat pumps draw energy from the wider atmosphere, meaning no fossil fuels need to be burnt, while Woodgreen’s solar tech heats the pool using free power from the sun. The other leisure centres where air source heat pumps have been installed are Spiceball, Bicester; Kidlington and Gosford.

Councillor Dan Sames, portfolio holder for cleaner and greener communities, said: “Reducing the carbon emissions from our leisure centres has been a high priority in this council's drive to tackle climate change. Now, when you dive into the pool, go to the gym, or play a game of badminton you can rest in the knowledge that your carbon footprint has been reduced.

“Councils need to lead by example in driving forward the changes that are needed to address the climate emergency, and we are pleased to be so far ahead in making these ambitious schemes an everyday part of people’s visits to our leisure centres.

“We’ve been proactive in applying to the government for funding to make these improvements, and this comprehensive overhaul of our swimming pools is part of a programme that will eliminate around 25 per cent of our emissions by the end of 2022.

The decarbonisation works at council buildings have an overall budget of £5.2 million, paid for by a Public Sector Decarbonisation Grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.