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By Michael Brown

Senior Staff Writer

4 March 2021

| | 3 min read

Climate Change

Newcastle successful in bid for £27.5m to decarbonise public buildings

Public buildings, including schools, libraries, leisure centres, and cultural venues like the Theatre Royal, will receive eco-upgrades after Newcastle City Council successfully bid for £27.25m.

Newcastle Theatre Royal
Newcastle Theatre Royal

The authority applied to the Government’s £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) for funding to install low carbon heating and other energy efficiency measures across 32 major sites.

Now it has been confirmed that the city is to receive all of the money it has asked for, with improvement work - which could support hundreds of jobs, save hundreds of thousands of pounds in running costs and be the equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the roads – set to progress quickly.

'A huge boost towards net zero'

Council leader Cllr Nick Forbes said: “This is a huge boost to help support our work towards achieving a net zero city.

“The upgrades this £27.25 million will allow us to make will be a significant step to ensuring some of our schools, leisure centres, cultural venues, depots, offices and industrial premises have a more sustainable future.

“From solar panels to “smart” building management systems; heat pumps; new LED lights; energy storage; electrical upgrades and low carbon heating systems; more efficient windows; better wall, roof and pipework insulation; and connecting the buildings to the heating network powered by the District Energy Centre at Helix, this is a really exciting opportunity to improve major public buildings.

“Removing up to 4,050 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year – equivalent to taking 2,828 cars off the road - will really help towards our ongoing target of being net zero by 2030.

“And it could help support and safeguard more than 800 jobs; potentially saving £386,000 a year on running costs, which would obviously be welcome at a time when our budget faces continued challenges.”

Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme

Launched in October 2020 the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme offered local authorities up to up to 100% of costs of upgrading public buildings, with the aim that measures be installed and up and running by the end of September this year.

Which buildings will benefit?

Newcastle City Council, with the help of £105,955 in funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Low Carbon Skills Fund, prepared six bids, totalling £27.25 million.

This included work to connect The Core at Helix, and Blandford House, which is home to the Discovery Museum, to the District Energy Centre network.

The Theatre Royal will benefit from “smart” heating, solar panels, a heat pump, new windows and new wall insulation.

And there are a wide range of energy efficiency measures planned for City and Fenham libraries; Gosforth and East End pools, Walker Activity Dome, West Denton Leisure Centre and Newcastle Trampoline Park; and Newburn Haugh and Bells Close industrial estates.

Elsewhere, Byker, Benton, Canning St, Cragside, Gosforth Junior High, Kenton, Milecastle, St Johns, St Mary’s Catholic, Sir Charles Parsons, Stocksfield, Thomas Bewick, Walbottle, Walker Riverside Academy, Walkergate, and West Jesmond Primary schools are set for upgrades.

Cllr Forbes said: said: “I look forward to hopefully having these improvements in place very quickly, as a big step forward in our climate ambitions.”