Solar-powered school campaign heating up

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey

First published in News by

MEMBERS of an environmental group are urging their MP to push for schools to be able to borrow money to become solar-powered in a bid to save thousands of pounds and benefit the environment.

York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth has written to Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh to urge the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, to allow schools to borrow money for the installation of solar panels. Friends member Josie Downs said that schools could save up to £8,000 a year if the panels were installed, which would in turn save enough money to pay the salary of more than 6,000 teachers.

She said: “It’s a no brainer. Solar PV on school roofs can help schools save up to £8,000 annually, reduce emissions and increase the UK’s energy security.

“If all schools in the UK were run on solar panels every year they could save money to pay the the salaries of more than 6,000 teachers. But at the moment they are blocked by current Government rules which prevent them from borrowing money for this purpose.”

The Education Act 2002 prevents schools from borrowing money or entering in to a loan contact, but exemptions have been made in the past to allow schools to borrow money to install energy efficiency measures, such as LED lights.

Josie said that Friends of the Earth is hoping that an exception can be made for the installation of solar panels and that local MPs will push central government for action.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) recent solar strategy said that the Government “will lead an initiative specifically targeted at England and Wales’ 24,000 schools” but Josie said that since the announcement little has been done.

“It seems that the Government did sort of make a noise about solar, but no plans have been announced other than a leaflet for schools, which was published on the DECC’s website. We think that more action is needed,” she said.

York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth is campaigning for more schools to use solar power as part of its ongoing Clean British Energy campaign to urge the Government to tackle climate change by cleaning up electricity by 2030.

The group estimates that solar panels on all schools could produce as much energy as burning 100,000 tonnes of oil and save as much pollution as taking 110,000 cars off the road for a year.

Visit foe.co.uk/sun for more information.

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