The ruling Liberal Democrats at Cotswold District Council have confirmed they will not be progressing with a plan to put solar panels on the roof of their district council offices at Trinity Road, Cirencester.
When the Lib Dems won control of the council in May 2019, they inherited a project from the previous administration to fit solar panels on the roof of the council’s headquarters. The project was debated again in July 2019 when Cllr Tony Berry (Conservative – Kemble) put forward a motion urging the administration to move the project forward. As a result of that motion, the administration agreed to conduct a feasibility assessment on the roof at Trinity Road.
Over a year later, the feasibility assessment has concluded that a Trinity Solar PV array of around 140kWp is feasible, but the Lib Dem administration has confirmed the project will not be taken forward because they are seeking more certainty about the medium and long-term plan for the future use of the council building.
The COVID-19 crisis has meant many council staff have been working from home and the Trinity Road offices have been almost empty. The Lib Dem administration is keen to understand the long-term impacts and changes in working behaviour before they commit to placing solar panels on the building. The development of Cirencester’s multi-storey car park has also been put on hold for the same reason.
However, the decision has been met with despair by opposition Conservative members because the council is currently pressing ahead with the renovation of the reception area at Trinity Road whilst at the same time claiming they can’t equip the building with solar panels because its long term future is uncertain.
Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group said,
“Since all councillors unanimously declared a climate emergency 18 months ago, the Lib Dems have recruited a very senior climate change officer and spent £172,000 of taxpayer’s money on a glossy climate change report written by expensive consultants. However, it shows the true priorities of this administration that they can find the money for the renovation of the reception area of the council building but cannot find the money for putting solar panels on its roof.”
“The Conservative group has supported all CDC efforts on climate change and biodiversity, and there is ongoing cross-party agreement that we need to act urgently and do what we can to help tackle these environmental challenges. However, it’s deeply frustrating that the Lib Dems just seem to want to talk about the issue rather than trying to do something tangible and realistic about it.”