Wokingham Borough Council is backing up its climate declaration with a commitment to install ethically-produced solar panels on suitable schools, libraries, leisure centres and other buildings it owns.
The council has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 and is already making moves to meet this ambitious target by starting a project installing solar panels during the next academic year. Schools agreeing to have solar panels would be able to benefit from lower energy bills even after costs have been taken into account.
“The climate emergency we face will hit our children the hardest – so it is somehow appropriate that one of our first acts after declaring an emergency will be to seek schools to be a part of the solution,” said Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for climate emergency. “I’m a passionate believer in local action to tackle climate change – we cannot and will not sit back and leave it to others.
“Installing these panels on schools and other borough council buildings will not be the work of an instant as there are technical difficulties to overcome and some of the buildings are old or perhaps unsuitable. But, we are committed to starting this project during the next school year, and will be targeting schools that we think could be pioneers for this.
“Schools provide a great opportunity for this but we will be looking at other building we own to see which could also be appropriate.”
The borough council will prioritise those schools it runs but the offer of panels will also be open to academies and free schools.
Cllr Graham Howe, deputy executive member for children’s services, has been instrumental in finding potential funding partners and suppliers for the solar panel scheme. “I love the idea of our schools being able to both help in the battle against climate change and benefit from doing so,” he said. “This scheme has the potential to advance two of our greatest priorities as a council – to become carbon neutral by 2030 and to give children the best start in life. There will be obstacles but I’m looking forward to working with our schools to bring this idea to life.”
Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services, said: “I know from my involvement with schools across the borough that our children and young people are our most enthusiastic champions of the environment and so I’m sure they’ll be delighted to see solar panels appearing on their schools in the years ahead.”