Leaders of a North East council are being asked to consider changes to a loan scheme which will encourage schools to make energy efficiency improvements.


Next week, Durham County Council’s Cabinet will meet to discuss the council’s school loans scheme, which currently allows local authority schools to borrow money for one-off capital projects, such as building works or new ICT equipment.


Working with the council’s Low Carbon Economy Team, schools across County Durham have been looking at how they can reduce their carbon emissions through improvements such as installing LED lighting or solar panels.


With this in mind, the council is now considering an amendment to the loans scheme to include energy efficiency investments.


On Wednesday, 19 January, the council’s Cabinet will be asked to agree to remove restrictions on loans for projects designed to increase the energy efficiency of a school, enabling more schools to access loans for such projects.


Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Our school estate is a key factor in our ambition to reduce carbon emissions across the county and our own operations.


“By adjusting our loan plan to make it more accessible for schools to finance energy efficiency projects, more improvements can be carried out. This will significantly contribute to our goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2030. Not only that, but energy efficiency improvements can often be self-financing, covering any initial borrowing costs.


“We want our climate ambitions to be at the heart of future projects. For this reason, carbon emissions and energy efficiency will be considered in all future building works, even in cases where the purpose of the works is not directly linked to improving energy efficiency. Any reduction in carbon emissions that we can make across our buildings will not only bring benefits to the environment but also will assist us in meeting our climate targets.”


Cabinet will hear more details of the school loans scheme when it meets on Wednesday, 19 January at 9.30am. Members of the public can view the meeting live via the council’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/DurhamCouncil