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Tue August 09 2022

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Money released for next round of public sector decarbonisation

24 May The government has allocated £553m to put in low carbon heating systems for public sector buildings.

Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham is getting £70m
Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham is getting £70m

The first round of funding allocated through phase three of the government’s public sector decarbonisation scheme will provide grants to 160 public sector organisations across England to install 217 clean heat and energy efficiency projects.

The funding is for carbon reduction measures such as air pumps, solar panels, insulation, double glazing and LED lighting.

The programme is expected to save taxpayers £650m a year over the next 15 years.

Upgrades are already happening under first two phases of the scheme, with grants awarded to 381 public sector organisations across England.

The government has also launched its boiler upgrade scheme for the private sector. Home-owners in England and Wales can claim £5,000 grants to replace old oil and gas boilers with heat pumps. [See separate report here.]

The latest £553m tranche of funding is the first part of an overall £1,425m expected to be allocated through phase three by 2025. Guidance on how to apply for the next round of applications, phase 3b, will be published in July, with the application window planned to open for applications in September.

Among projects to be supported through phase three of the public sector decarbonisation scheme are:

  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is receiving more than £70m to revamp Queens Medical Centre.
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority is receiving £15.5m to install low carbon heating in various institutions, including Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, the University of Salford, the National Football Museum and Manchester University.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, gets £4.4m to decarbonise the Nash Conservatory and Jodrell Laboratory.
  • Leeds City Council is receiving £4.3 million to decarbonise 6 primary schools and 4 child day care centres.
  • Birmingham Women’s & Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is getting £50m for work in Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
  • Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust gets £32m for New Cross Hospital.

Business and energy minister Lord Callanan said: “Using cleaner technology to heat our civic buildings is helping to shield public sector organisations from costly fossil fuels, especially at a time of high global prices. This funding will bring significant savings for taxpayers of well over half a billion pounds each year by making public buildings cheaper to run, heat and cool, whilst supporting economic growth and jobs across the country.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “Here in Greater Manchester we know we need to be taking bold and meaningful steps at every level to become carbon neutral by 2038. By moving towards a greener economy we can foster new skills and create thousands of good jobs, powering our recovery from the pandemic and charting a course to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

“The £100m funding that we’ve been awarded so far is helping our public sector to lead the way in this effort, showing exactly what we can achieve with the right investment and a collaborative approach. We’ve retrofitted more than 130 public buildings and cut more than 8,000 tonnes of harmful emissions, at the same time as supporting and safeguarding almost 2,000 jobs in our local economy. We hope this is just the start of a renewed effort to work together at national and local level, helping us to go further and faster in cutting emissions and tackling the climate emergency.”

Building Research Establishment chief executive Gillian Charlesworth said: “The UK has one of the oldest and least energy efficient building stocks in Europe, which unnecessarily inflates demand for natural gas. Accelerating the roll out of retrofit measures like insulation is a short-term solution that could address spiralling bills and significantly improve the energy efficiency of our public buildings. With nearly a fifth of all gas being consumed by the non-domestic sector, a lack of any retrofit strategy will result in higher costs for our businesses and public infrastructure – including schools and hospitals. This will also be felt by households, who will have to bear the brunt of higher prices.

“Aside from keeping the public sector’s energy bills down and reducing its carbon footprint, retrofitting public buildings is a fast and cost-effective strategy to reduce demand for natural gas and will help to support the UK’s energy security. However, without a clear plan and funding to upgrade the UK’s building stock, our energy security strategy cannot be driven forward effectively – and we will quickly lose momentum on the drive to net zero.”

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