Godalming's new leisure centre, owned by Waverley Borough Council, is about to create a renewable energy project which could lead the field of sustainable public sector development in the UK.
Surrey-based LC Energy has contracted to supply fuel to the leisure centre’s new biomass heating system.
The company will deliver 150 tonnes of woodchip annually over the next five years, supporting 20% of the centre’s energy needs. The woodchip will be sourced from local and sustainable wood stocks and delivered from Shere, just 8 miles from the new facility, making the project one of the most efficient energy sourcing strategies within the UK.
Sustainably harvested biomass fuel is very close to carbon neutral – taking carbon out of the atmosphere while it is growing, and returning it as it burns – its carbon footprint is made during the delivery process. If the miles the fuel travels are kept to a minimum, so too is the environmental impact.
Mark Lebus, managing director of LC Energy commented: “Given the short distance between woodland and boiler, it’s our understanding that this project represents one of most eco-friendly examples of public sector energy sourcing in the UK. It’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we think locally, but act globally.”
He added: “Wood fuel boilers, such as the new one at Godalming Leisure Centre are a genuinely viable alternative energy source for organisations not only wishing to reduce their carbon footprint, but also reduce the region’s reliance on ever decreasing stocks of fossil fuels, and make savings that can be passed on to customers.”
Cllr Bryn Morgan, councillor responsible for Climate Change and Sustainability at Waverley Borough Council said: “The biomass boiler will take advantage of Waverley being the most wooded borough in the most wooded county in the country. We expect the income from this to be around £17,000 from the recently introduced government scheme known as the Renewable Heat Incentive. Thanks to excellent planning by Waverley, the new Godalming Leisure Centre will be reducing energy use and saving money at the same time.”
Figures show that the South East is the most wooded area in England with over 270,000 hectares of woodland, only half of which is being managed effectively. If more sustainable woodland management practices were introduced, estimates from the Forestry Commission suggest that the South East could supply an additional 500,000 tonnes of timber a year for conversion into wood chips for fuel boilers.