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Solar panels at Craven Leisure in Skipton still not switched on

Monday, 10 July 2023 15:21

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Five hundred solar panels on the roof of Craven Leisure have still not been switched on, despite assurances from the council earlier this year that a problem with the building’s electricity supply had been resolved.

The panels were installed at the Skipton leisure centre in November 2021 as part of a £1.2m project to reduce carbon emissions at the council’s buildings and reduce bills.

But the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported in January that the council was still awaiting confirmation from its energy distributor before they could be used due to an issue with a third party.

At the final  meeting of Craven District Council in March, Conservative council leader Richard Foster said the issue that was preventing the solar panels from being switched on had been resolved and engineers would be working between April 3 and April 14 to connect them up.

Now, as it approaches two years since they were installed, North Yorkshire Council has revealed the solar panels are still not working.

The council, which took ownership of the leisure centre from CDC, blamed the latest delays on issues “beyond our control” and the building needing an electricity upgrade.

Green Party councillor for Aire Valley, Andy Brown, told the LDRS that it is “completely unnacceptable” that the solar panels are not generating any renewable energy yet.

He said: “We were given firm assurances in public at a full meeting of Craven District Council that this problem had been solved. Something is going very wrong when a scheme that is all geared up to save local people a lot of money whilst reducing carbon emissions sits idle for well over a year because of a failure to connect the scheme to the grid.

“Either the electricity companies have seriously underinvested in the connection infrastructure or the council has been incompetent in its planning and implementation and has misinformed the public. Or both. That is completely unacceptable.”

North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of resources, Gary Fielding, said: “This has been a complex and challenging project and our staff have worked tirelessly to try and complete it. However, some of the additional issues encountered are beyond our control.

“Craven Leisure requires an electricity upgrade and the delays are due to issues relating to a third party.

“We are yet to receive a firm date for the final stages of the project, however, we will endeavour to complete the work as soon as we can.”

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