Dorset’s largest country park goes green

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure for a green surprise… Avon Heath Country Park is now home to an array of new solar panels on the roofs of its café, classroom and toilet block.

The panels have been installed as part of Dorset Council’s drive to reduce carbon emissions and will take the council another step closer to its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Solar panels on roof of Avon Heath Country Park cafe

The array is expected to produce around 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year which will help power the visitor centre, café and classroom at Dorset’s largest country park – saving around five tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Funding for the panels comes from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, a scheme set-up by the Government and delivered by Salix to reduce the emissions of publicly owned buildings across the UK.  This scheme is helping fund a whole host of low carbon measures across council-owned sites including schools, libraries and leisure centres, and will help accelerate the council’s shift to renewable energy.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“Renewable energy production is one of the most important aspects of Dorset Council’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy.

“We know Dorset has great potential for solar energy generation. By making good use of our available roof space, like we have at Avon Heath Country Park, we can take important steps towards our net-zero goal.

“The new panels will also be an excellent educational resource for the park, providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about renewable energy and the important role it has to play in our county’s future.”

Solar panels on roof of Dorset Council depot at Moors Valley Country Park
Solar panels at Moors Valley Country Park

Avon Heath isn’t the first of Dorset Council’s country parks to get a green makeover.  Last year, with the help of Low Carbon Dorset, the council invested in solar panels at Moors Valley Country Park along with battery powered tools for their Greenspace team – a move which is expected to save the council up to £10K in energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint by more than 43 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The council plans to continue its roll out of renewable energy at its country parks, with work currently underway to increase the number of solar panels and introduce low-carbon heating at Durlston Country Park in Swanage.

You can find out more on the council’s plans to decarbonise its estate and keep track of its progress in tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) on its social media pages, and by visiting the CEE section of the Dorset Council website.

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