Solar panels installed at iconic Durlston Castle

Solar panels have been installed on the roof of Durlston Castle in Dorset this month as part of Dorset Council’s continued efforts to reduce carbon emissions across its estate.

The new panels, which have been sensitively positioned on the Victorian castle to minimise their visual impact, are part of the council’s on-going work in response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Cllr Bryan viewing new panels at Durlston Castle with Dorset Council's Climate & Ecological Sustainability Director and Sustainability Team Manager

The green energy generated by the panels (an expected 24,500-kilowatt hours a year) will help power the visitor centre, café, shop and gallery at Durlston, and is expected to save around six tonnes of CO2e each year.  Any unused electricity produced will feed directly into the national grid to be used elsewhere around the country.

The Grade II listed castle is set within Durlston Country Park, a 320-acre country park and nature reserve which forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.  The council-owned site receives over a quarter of million visitors a year and has already proven itself as an ideal spot for solar energy generation.  In 2010, solar panels were installed on the roof of the park’s learning centre which, over the past 12 years, have saved an impressive 58 tonnes of CO2e.

Katie Black, Senior Ranger at Durlston Country Park, said:

“The Durlston National Nature Reserve is one of the country’s most important places for wildlife and plays a key role in Dorset Council’s response to the ecological crisis we are facing.

“These new solar panels will help us contribute to the council’s response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency and make sure Durlston’s positive impact on the environment is greater than ever.”

The addition of solar panels at the castle is just one of many green initiatives being taken to reduce the historic building’s carbon footprint.  A new low-carbon heat pump system is set to be installed later this month, and the castle’s old lighting has already been replaced with highly efficient LEDs.

The project at Durlston is part of a wider £19 million programme of work by the council to reduce the carbon footprint of its buildings.  This work is funded through 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.

Since securing funds from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme last March, the council has moved at record pace and has already installed low-carbon measures at more than 100 of its sites (which have included schools, leisure centres and libraries) with more installations planned for this month.

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

“The installation of solar panels at such an exemplar site is an excellent demonstration of Dorset Council’s efforts to deliver on its Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy and shows how low carbon technologies can be integrated into our listed buildings whilst still preserving their historic integrity.

“I am incredibly proud of the officers and contractors who are working tirelessly to get this programme of work delivered. This project at Durlston Castle has been a great achievement, especially considering the pandemic-related supply issues that have been encountered along the way.

“Moving forward the new panels will not only reduce the carbon footprint of our beloved castle, but also help secure its energy prices.

“I would strongly encourage any Dorset residents and businesses who haven’t yet done so to investigate what savings could be achieved by installing renewable energy or energy saving measures in your homes and buildings.

“It’s also worth checking to see if you could be eligible for free advice and funding to help install these measures from our Healthy Homes Dorset and Low Carbon Dorset programmes.”

You can keep track of the council’s 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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