THREE Hampshire schools will benefit from greener energy following the approval of a scheme to install ground source heat pumps.

Hampshire County Council has secured national grant funding to part-finance the heat pumps at Heatherside Junior School in Fleet, Hiltingbury Junior School in Chandler’s Ford, and Nightingale Primary School in Eastleigh.

The pumps will provide low-carbon heating.

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Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, the county council’s cabinet lead for Regulatory Services, which includes responsibility for county council properties, said: “I’m delighted to give the green light to this pilot project. This innovative technology harnesses natural heat from underground to generate energy-efficient heating and hot water. The heat pumps will replace ageing systems that run on fossil fuels and are set to reduce carbon emissions. All three schools are receiving, or have already gained, a package of energy efficiency measures including a reclad of the buildings to deliver greener, modern exteriors, and solar panels which collectively, with the heat pumps, will reduce running costs.

“We will be monitoring the data from this trial to assess whether this technology could be rolled out across other buildings of similar age and design, subject to national funding being available. The County Council declared a climate emergency four years ago, setting out challenging targets for Hampshire to be carbon neutral and more resilient to the impacts of climate change by 2050. Projects such as this represent our commitment to exploring innovative approaches that support these ambitions.”

The project is being financed by a £931,715 grant fund from the national Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme with an additional £824,132 from the County Council’s budget allocated for school building improvements.

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Originally built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the three schools have long had high energy consumption due to outdated insulation and single glazing.

Unlike air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps are housed internally and do not require an external fan.

Detailed preparatory work and further consultation with each school for the installation of the heat pumps will now take place, with works expected to start next year.