West Midlands public buildings getting £134 million for energy efficiency upgrades

Almost £134 million will be spent on upgrading public buildings across the Midlands with energy efficiency measures, Government chiefs have revealed.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton
New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

Ministers said hospitals, schools, libraries, museums and leisure centres and other buildings will receive the upgrade in a bid to cut fossil fuel use in the region.

Money from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will provide cash boosts to 15 public sectors for installing 19 energy efficiency projects.

It will be spent on upgraded heating systems, powered by cleaner and cheaper renewable energy, to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels – and save taxpayers money.

Business and Energy minister Lord Callanan said: "Installing low-carbon systems to heat our civic buildings will help to shield public sector organisations across the West Midlands from a costly reliance on fossil fuels, especially at a time of high global prices.

"From installing heat pumps in fire stations in Worcestershire to upgrading insulation in Birmingham’s hospitals, this funding will save West Midlands taxpayers money each year. We are making their public buildings cheaper to run, heat and cool."

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has been awarded almost £33 million to de-carbonise New Cross Hospital by replacing gas boilers with heat pumps – and improve energy efficiency through the installation of LED lighting, insulation, double glazing and upgrades to the energy management system.

West Midlands Police is being awarded almost £260,000 to replace old gas-fired boilers at Stechford Police Station with air source heat pumps.

Walsall Council will being handed £2.6 million to decarbonise Darlaston Leisure Centre by replacing boilers with heat pumps and installing solar panels, a new energy management system, insulation and LED lighting.

Dave Brown, director of place and environment at Walsall Council, said: "We are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our active living centres across the borough and this funding will go a long way in helping us achieve that. Tackling climate change here in Walsall is vital and we’re committed to getting a head start as we work to reach net zero emissions by 2050."

Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust will receive more than £52 million to install the measures in Birmingham Women's Hospital and Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Sarah Jane-Marsh, chief executive of the trust, said: "Birmingham Women’s and Children’s has been committed to reducing our carbon output for many years. But the scale of what was needed and the money involved, has made it near impossible.

"Anyone who has been to either of our hospitals will have experienced the extreme temperatures. The 60-year-old Women’s Hospital is like a greenhouse in the summer and a freezer in the winter. The Grade II listed Children’s Hospital, with its 125-year-old single glazed windows, faces many of the same challenges.

"Now, thanks to this generous £53 million BEIS grant, which complements our future planning and Big Build ambitions, we can make much needed improvements, not only for our women, children, young people and families, but also the environment we all depend on."

Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service will be receiving £144,940 to install heat pumps at Upton-on-Severn and Tenbury Wells Fire Stations. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust will be awarded more than £4 million to install heat pumps, solar panels and insulation at the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby.

Assistant chief fire officer Ade Elliott said: "We are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of buildings across our estate, and this funding is helping us achieve this at two on-call fire stations.

"The funding is helping us to remove outdated fossil fuelled boilers and replace with modern greener technologies. Tackling climate change here in Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is vital and we’re committed to getting a head start as we work through our Environment Sustainability action plans."

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust will be receiving £35.6 million for four projects to fit low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures at Solihull, Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals.

Decarbonising public sector buildings with energy efficiency and low carbon heat will save local authorities, public bodies and taxpayers in England an estimated average of £650 million per year on energy bills to 2037.

A Whitehall source added: “This is levelling up in action. Energy efficiency upgrades slash bills, drive economic growth and create jobs.

“The proof is in the pudding here, as the total of £134m for the West Midlands far outstrips London with £92m, meaning more jobs, greater taxpayer savings and vital upgrades to our vital public buildings like the Birmingham Women's and Children’s Hospitals.”

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme supports the aim of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75 per cent, compared to 2017 levels, by 2037.

Previous Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding has included Staffordshire County Council receiving £3 million to de-carbonise 22 school buildings, and Academies Enterprise Trust receiving £3.3 million to provide energy efficiency upgrades in six of its West Midlands-based academies, including Anglesey Primary Academy, Staffordshire, and Percy Shurmer Academy, Birmingham.

Elsewhere, Lichfield District Council was awarded £1.3 million to upgrade Burntwood Leisure Centre, Beacon Park Pavillion and the council offices, and Diocese of Coventry Multi Academy Trust installed LED lighting at St Nicolas Church of England Academy, Nuneaton, and Harris Church of England Academy, Rugby, thanks to a grant of £184,410.

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