Canopies of solar panels could be installed in car parks in Stratford

TWO car parks in Stratford could get a green makeover to help reduce the town’s carbon footprint.

Sun Shelters (54423271)

Experts were brought in to see if it was viable to install awnings topped with solar panels in the parking lot of the leisure centre, and solar panels on the roof of the building.

In theory, this could generate enough power to meet the center’s electrical needs, as well as to charge the electric cars parked outside.

Stratford District Council, which owns the leisure center and car park, has sanctioned £13,000 for a feasibility study by consultants Kingscote Enterprises to see if the idea is profitable.

It will also assess the pros and cons of adding solar canopies to the upper level of the Bridgeway car park opposite, which is owned and operated by the council.

Dave Barber, climate change program manager at Stratford and Warwick District Councils, said the study will begin next month.

It will look at the cost of buying and installing the equipment and compare it to the potential benefits, such as carbon savings and lower electricity bills.

Mr Barber said: ‘All of those sorts of issues will be considered before any decisions are made and it will be up to the cabinet to decide whether they wish to invest in whatever the costs.’

The leisure centre, contracted by Everyone Active, includes a swimming pool, wellness room and gym with 3,000 members.

Many more residents are taking exercise classes and using the pool and gym on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Leisure center manager Richard Bell said: ‘It would be great if it could be used to supply electricity to the centre. It would be extremely beneficial on all levels.

“Utility bills are going up, so anything that would reduce that a bit would be a big help.”

The feasibility study is part of the council’s drive to reduce carbon emissions from the buildings and vehicles it owns.

The council, which declared a climate emergency in 2019, aims to more than halve the district’s total emissions by 2030.