Swim England

A nation swimming

Facilities share £60 million Swimming Pool Support Fund to become energy efficient

More than 300 facilities are to receive a share of a £60 million fund to help swimming pools become more energy efficient.

The second phase of the Swimming Pool Support Fund has seen 264 local authorities successfully apply for grants for a total of more than 500 projects.

They include solar panels, pool covers, LED lighting and improving insulation as well as variety of other capital improvements aimed at modernising the energy efficiency of public facilities with pools in the medium to long term.

A total of £20 million of the fund has been provided by Sport England via the National Lottery, while just over £40m is from the Government as part of its commitment to support the sustainability of public leisure.

While the investment has been lauded by Swim England as ‘much-needed’, the national governing body has said it will continue to fight for the long-term future of pools which had missed out on the scheme.

The total funding applied for by local authorities was four times the amount available.

Phil Brownlie, Swim England head of public affairs, said: “This investment is certainly much-needed and it will make a significant difference to those successful pools, helping them become more energy efficient and more sustainable.

“However, more than 1,000 pools up and down the country are more than 40 years old and the fact there was such a huge oversubscription to the fund shows the scale of the problems facilities still face.

“While phase two of the Swimming Pool Support Fund is warmly welcomed, a long-term plan to help deliver the network of sustainable pools we need for the future is urgently required.

Key priority

“Swimming pools offer huge benefits to the mental and physical health of people of all ages, while the savings associated with aquatic activity and the NHS means investing in them for future generations should be a key priority.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Sport England’s executive director – place said: “Swimming pools and leisure centres are vital community resources and are enormously important in helping people to be physically active.

“Many pools have faced a real and significant threat to their survival this year, as local authorities and operators have battled the challenge of increased energy and wider costs, weakened reserves and difficulties with retaining staff.

“Sport England is proud of the role we’ve played in supporting these facilities through this difficult period.

“We hope today’s funding announcement will enable more public pools to improve their energy efficiency to be more environmentally and financially sustainable so they remain available for future generations to enjoy.”

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew added: “Millions of people swim every year in England but high energy costs mean some pools are struggling financially.

“I know from personal experience the health benefits of getting down to your local pool, whether that’s just for a few lengths, to swim with friends, or a water aerobics class.

“This further £60 million of support from the Government and Sport England will make hundreds of swimming pools more energy efficient so they can keep offering their vital community and health benefits for generations to come.”

The first phase of the Swimming Pool Support Fund was distributed in November last year and saw 196 facilities in 103 local authorise at risk of closure or service reductions due to soaring energy bills and operational costs share £20 million to help pay for immediate maintenance, heating and pool chemicals.