South Ayrshire Council have sought to play down concerns that the new Ayr Leisure Centre will suffer as a result of rocketing energy prices.

Standalone swimming pools are among the most expensive sports facilities to run, largely because of the cost of heating the pool.

In a number of facilities, including Auchenharvie Leisure Centre in North Ayrshire, the swimming pool is partnered with an ice rink.

In these designs, the waste heat from the chiller unit of the ice rink is stored in a special thermal energy storage tank and used to heat the pool. It is this design that is one of the main tenets of SeeAyr’s proposed Newton Leisure and Regeneration hub.

The concerns were reiterated last week when MPs were told by Swim England, pool owners and operators, and local government bodies that the costs were a ‘clear and present danger’ at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming in Westminster.

The group heard that energy cost increases of between 100-150 per cent for the leisure sector are forcing pool owners and operators to increase prices and consider closures.

The total energy bill for the leisure sector in the UK has risen from £500 million in 2019 to between £1-£1.2 billion for this year.

Around 40 per cent of people who exercise by swimming don’t participate in any other exercise activity.

A spokesperson for South Ayrshire Council said: “The new leisure centre has been designed to comply with the councils net zero carbon ambitions, so no utilisation of carbon sourced energy sources such as gas/coal/oil.

“The centre has also been designed to reduce energy demand and consumption by utilising the following approaches:

  • Passive design – Reducing the overall energy demand required to operate the building. Improvements include efficient fabric and shading design to reduce heating and cooling demand, natural daylighting to reduce artificial lighting demand, natural ventilation, appropriate sizing of building systems to limit over-engineering.
  •  Energy efficiency – Increasing the energy efficiency of the building systems. Improvements include highly energy efficient building systems – HVAC, lighting, vertical transport etc.
  • Energy management – Implementing smart energy/building management systems. Improvements include conducting an energy audit, managing occupant behaviour, managing ‘peak loads’, adjusting HVAC temperature set points, achieving ISO 50001 accreditation."