MORE than £3.5 million is set to be spent replacing old gas boilers with greener heat pumps at two leisure centres in Tipton.

Sandwell Council is planning to take up the offer of more than £3 million in government funding to replace old gas boilers at Tipton Sports Academy and Tipton Leisure Centre. 

The move would save 470 tonnes of CO2 and around £65,000 a year, according to Sandwell Council. 

Salix, the body handing out funding for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, will provide most of the money with Sandwell Council already agreeing to spend £500,000 towards the cost of installing the new heat pumps.

Heat pumps are powered by electricity and work by taking ‘low grade’ heat from the air outside a building and converting it into useful heat at higher temperatures, which is then used to heat spaces and water. 

The council said it would be borrowing the £449,280 it has agreed to match fund. The estimated annual savings would be used to fund the loan repayments.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet meets on June 19 to rubber-stamp the offer from Salix to pay for the majority of the project. Councillors will also be asked to approve plans to appoint renewable energy specialists Leisure Energy to design and carry out the work.

The council’s bid for government funding has already been accepted – and the £500,000 required from Sandwell’s taxpayers has already been included in the authority’s ‘medium term’ financial plans. 

The work must be finished by March 2026, according to Salix’s deadline.

The cabinet papers, which have now been published ahead of the meeting, said the “tight” timescales and May’s council elections, meant it was impossible to seek approval from councillors before the application was made in November. 

Sandwell Council said the two sites in Tipton were picked following a review of the borough’s leisure centres. The energy audit said the work was the “most needed” because of the age of the age of two building’s heating systems. 

The public sector decarbonisation scheme (PSDS) provides money to help reduce carbon emissions from public buildings. The main aim of the scheme is to upgrade heating systems reliant on fossil for low-carbon alternatives – particularly technology such as heat pumps which have a higher upfront cost than equivalent gas boilers.

Sandwell Council declared a climate emergency in 2020 and committed to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The borough has already received more than £1.6 million in government PSDS money – including funding for solar panels, new heating systems for schools and heat pumps at Sandwell Council House.