Durlston Castle to get solar panels to reduce carbon footprint

Planning permission has been granted to install solar panels at the Grade II listed castle set in the grounds of Durlston Country Park near Swanage.

Built as a Victorian folly by George Burt between 1887 and 1891 and now owned by Dorset Council, the castle will get an eco upgrade to help tackle climate change.

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At the Dorset Council eastern area planning committee on Wednesday 5th January 2022, councillors unanimously voted to approve the plans.

Initially, the proposal was to install 92 solar panels on top of the castle and across the roof of the modern extension that houses the Fine Foundation Gallery.

Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle
Dorset Council
Roof of Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle
Dorset Council

The solar panels will only be installed on the roof of the modern Fine Foundation Gallery building

Project was scaled back

However after consultation with heritage groups, the project was scaled back to 68 panels that would only be installed on the south facing gallery roof, avoiding disturbance to the original Victorian architecture.

In a presentation to councillors, the planning officer explained that while reducing the number of panels would mean cutting back the generation capacity of the scheme from 32 kilowatts to 28.5 kilowatts, it would still make a valuable contribution towards improving its eco credentials and reducing its energy costs.

View towards Durlston Castle
Durlston Castle

Durlston Castle was originally meant to be the centrepiece to George Burt’s Durlston housing estate, which in the end was never built

Funded by a £19 million government grant

Swanage ward councillor Bill Trite said:

“The whole Durlston complex is marvellous and what is good for that, I’m sure is good for Swanage, so I’m very happy to support the proposals.”

The cost of the solar panels will be funded from a £19 million government grant that was awarded to Dorset Council to make its public buildings more energy efficient and to boost the installation of low carbon heating measures.

Seaview at Durlston Country Park
Newly relaid paths at Durlston Country Park

The grounds have recently been restored to encourage greater environmental diversity

“Reduce Dorset Council’s carbon footprint

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said:

“We’re delighted to be able to move ahead with our solar panel plans for Durlston Country Park. Using our existing properties to install these kinds of measures is a key part of our Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy, and we’re currently planning similar works for other buildings across the county.

“I’d like to once again thank the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Salix Finance for the funding they’ve provided to ensure we can continue to reduce Dorset Council’s carbon footprint and help us tackle the climate crisis.”

Now that permission has been granted, it’s expected that the solar panels will be installed and working at Durlston Country Park by March 2022.

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