£3m investment for Didcot and Wheatley leisure centres

A successful bid by South Oxfordshire District Council has secured government funding amounting to £1,490,475.

This funding is intended for the installation of solar panels and air source heat pumps, replacing the gas-fired boilers at The Didcot Wave Leisure Centre and Park Sports Centre, in Wheatley.

The remainder of the required funding, approximately £1,582,570, has been produced jointly by South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council in order to complete the works by spring 2026.

Oxford Mail: Councillor Maggie Filipova-RiversCouncillor Maggie Filipova-Rivers (Image: Sue Cooper)

Councillor Maggie Filipova-Rivers, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “This is such good news for the centres and the people who use them.

“The energy bills are expected to reduce as a result of this decarbonisation programme, which means the leisure centres are sustainable both economically and from a climate point of view.”

The new renewable energy measures will help to cut more than 200 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

This transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy will reduce South Oxfordshire District Council’s overall emissions by 6.9 per cent.

Councillor Freddie Van Mierlo, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for climate change and nature recovery, said: “This is great news for our communities.

“Leisure centres are energy hungry and a major source of the council’s carbon emissions.

“This investment is therefore a double win – we are both safeguarding the environment and protecting consumers’ and taxpayers’ wallets.”

The funding has become available via the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme Phase 3c (PSDS3c).

Managed by Salix Finance on behalf of the government, the PSDS3c is an initiative by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Its goal is to reduce emissions from heating public sector buildings, thereby supporting a green recovery and reinforcing the UK’s 2050 net zero target and clean growth aspirations.

Director of programmes at Salix, Ian Rodger said: “It is very clear that we face huge net zero challenges, and we have no time to waste in addressing our carbon footprint.

“At Salix, we’re delighted to be able to work with South Oxfordshire District Council on improving the energy efficiency of such vital community buildings.

“These leisure centres are a true hub of activity for local people.

“The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding will help not only make these buildings more energy efficient, but they will be better venues to work in and visit.”

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