Craiglockhart school parents slam council over soaring energy bills

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A PARENT group has criticised the council for its “inaction” over soaring energy bills at schools across the Capital.

Craiglockhart Primary School Parent Council has even produced its own list of power-saving suggestions, including investing in new boilers, after working with Edinburgh University students to carry out a survey of heating costs and improvements.

The parent council hopes to discuss its findings, which claim the school could save more than £6000 per year by reducing gas consumption, with council officers.

Green councillor Alison Johnstone was today set to highlight the need to invest in order to save money on heating bills in a motion to full council.

However, city education leader Marilyne MacLaren, who promised a number of measures to tackle poor heating in February 2011, pointed out that a range improvements had been made at city schools, including upgrading boilers and installing loft insulation.

Gavin Corbett, a member of Craiglockhart’s parent council who is standing for the Greens in the council elections, said: “Our analysis shows that we could save over £6000 a year on energy bills, equal to a 40 per cent reduction in our school alone – that is money saved for materials and other priorities.

“However, at least for our school, it appears that very little is actually happening. Speaking to other schools, they face the same problems and have the same perception of little happening.

“In the meantime, we have been working with two Masters engineering students from the University of Edinburgh to better understand the thermal performance of the school.

“They put temperature sensors in three different locations in the school.”

Mr Corbett said the findings were “fairly damning of current energy management” and also presented “a huge opportunity for improvement”.

A summary of the research stated that there were significant problems with poor energy use in the school – mainly old and inefficient boilers.

It concluded that there was significant scope for Craiglockhart to reduce costs, improve the comfort of staff and children, and cut emissions.

The findings were sent by the parent council to Councillor MacLaren earlier this month.

Cllr Johnstone, who is urging the council to agree an energy plan for each school, said: “Tackling heating costs in schools is a win-win-win. Firstly, there are hundreds of thousands of pounds paying for energy bills that could be spent on books, materials and pupil support. Secondly, cutting bills means cutting carbon emissions and helping secure eco-schools status. Thirdly, those schools which are able to manage heating more effectively produce more comfortable conditions for pupils and staff.”

Cllr MacLaren said the council had invested more than £3 million in energy conservation in schools over the last four years, with a further £300,000 available for this financial year.

She added: “It’s absolutely scurrilous to say we are sitting there doing nothing. We have put a lot of money in too because it’s important to cut down CO2 emissions and to get the schools to conserve energy.”