CASH strapped council chiefs have hit upon a bright idea. They want to blanket council buildings in solar panels and use any profit they make selling electricity to the National Grid to pay for things such as children’s playgrounds.
Around 30 council-owned buildings across the Capital could take part in the innovative money-spinning plan.
Although an exact list has not been drawn up schools and community centres are most likely to be used. It is understood local authority buildings in the Old Town and city centre – such as the City Chambers and Waverley Court – will be exempt due to World Heritage restrictions.
The proposal for a solar-powered Capital was revealed by city leader Cllr Andrew Burns. He said the project would be propelled by a co-operative group of shareholders.
After they receive their return, additional profits would be funnelled into community ventures and amenities.
He said the co-operative concept – which may be extended into social care, child care and housing – was being primed by council officers and could come in by next year.
“It can save money,” he said. “We have thousands of buildings all over the city but if we put solar panels on 25 or 30 council buildings and set up an energy co-operative, electricity is generated and fed back into the grid. It could be used for playground infrastructure and that takes pressure off us as a local authority.”
And he added: “It will do two things: make good our commitment to involve people more and try to ease pressure on council services.”
Stephanie Clark, policy officer for Scottish Renewables, said Edinburgh was “leading the way” with its inventive use of public buildings. She said the scheme will benefit “people across Edinburgh”.
The council has to save £35 million over the next four years. It is currently embroiled in a tough round of austere cutting. We told last week how the body is looking to cut £7.5m from its schools budget.