Ambitious energy project aims to save thousands for Wendover schools

Wharf Road Campus from the air – Google Earth image

In an unprecedented partnership for Buckinghamshire, a local community energy group, Buckinghamshire Council and six organisations at the heart of Wendover’s community life have come together in an ambitious project to reduce the village’s carbon footprint and save money on energy by installing a range of renewable energy sources.

Funded by a grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund, Buckinghamshire Community Energy is working with consultants ReEnergise to carry out a feasibility study to see whether it is possible to take John Colet School, John Hampden School, Wendover Junior School, Wendover Swimming Pool, Wendover Youth Centre and Wendover Memorial Hall off gas and use alternative renewable energy sources such as a ground source heat pump to provide heating and hot water. The study will also investigate the possibility of installing solar panels on as many buildings on the Wharf Road Campus as possible in order to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.

Collectively these organisations use 570,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 1,510,000 kWh of gas per year at an estimated combined annual cost of £143,500 and 398 tonnes of carbon emissions.

That’s the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of 138 average homes, which Kirsty Shanahan, Development Director at Buckinghamshire Community Energy, says highlights the important role publicly-owned buildings have to play in getting to Net Zero.

“On the recommendation of Climate Action Wendover, we chose the Wharf Road Campus area because the site has a lot of energy use within all the buildings, and is absolutely at the heart of the community,” she says. “Saving these organisations money on energy will enable them to spend that money on other things to benefit local people, and will help the whole of Wendover to reduce its carbon footprint significantly.”

As well as the financial support from the Government through the Rural Community Energy Fund, the feasibility study has got the blessing of Buckinghamshire Council as it develops the plans to deliver its Climate Change Strategy, approved last year.

Peter Strachan, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment and local ward member for Wendover said:

“I very much welcome this work being undertaken here in Wendover. Although the organisations which operate on the site are independent, Buckinghamshire Council remains the freeholder and so we will have an important role in enabling the delivery of a project on the ground.

“It’s fantastic to see communities taking such innovative and proactive approaches in addressing the climate crisis and I am delighted that as a Council we are able to support and enable this particular project.

“This is exactly the kind of project we need in order to help reach our goal of net zero carbon emissions in Buckinghamshire by 2050.

“I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the report and I hope that we will be able to move forward in a positive way.”

The report from the study, due to be completed in late April, will make recommendations for electricity-based heating for all the buildings on the site, as well as energy efficiency measures and solar panels.