SWINDON Council wants to spend £900,000 on fitting solar panels to large town buildings.

Five council-connected buildings would have the sun-collecting cells installed on their roofs in a bid to save thousands of pounds every year.

If the cabinet decides to adopt the proposals tomorrow, it could save an estimated £12,696 every year in electricity bills, and would let the council export £3,555-worth of power into the National Grid.

And it would just be the start – one day all public buildings could be fitted with the photovoltaic technology.

Leading the drive is Coun Peter Greenhalgh (Con, Freshbrook and Grange Park), who is in charge of energy conservation at the council.

“This is one of our many steps down the road to improving the council’s sustainability, looking at how we can use natural resources in a non-destructive fashion to benefit society in Swindon,” he said.

Asked if the dream was to one day install the panels on every public building he said: “Potentially that’s the case, but not just every public building.

“Look at some large warehouse schemes in Swindon – there’s no reason why we can’t have PV cells on those roofs.

“Large industrial units used by BMW and Honda are a natural fit.”

Coun Greenhalgh said he does not expect a barrage of objections from residents because the technology is unobtrusive, and that they had not done it sooner because they were waiting for the technology to mature.

All the annual repayments of the £900,000 loan would be covered the Feed-In Tariff, a Government subsidy made available to councils which install the technology.

Andy Parsons, 48, the co-chairman of the Swindon Climate Action Network, welcomed the move, but said much, much more needs to be done.

He said: “Small scale solar power isn’t going to solve the problem of climate change. We need a lot more action.

“My view is the climate crisis is so grave that anything and everything we can do, we must – that includes solar, but also on-shore wind and offshore wind.

“Anything in our armoury to cut down on burning fossil fuels must be used.”

He said if the council really wants to make good its commitment on sustainability, it should approve any schemes for wind turbines or other renewable technology that comes its way.

“I’d have one in my back garden if they wanted to put one here,” he said.

The buildings which are earmarked for solar panels are the Civic Offices, Thamesdown Transport Depot (the company is an offshoot of the council), Swindon Commercial Services’s two depots, and Catherine Wayte Primary School, in Abbey Meads.

The cabinet meeting takes place at the Civic Offices, in Euclid Street, at 6pm on Wednesday.