Gloucestershire College embarks on £4.8m bid to be carbon neutral

Image source, Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media Ltd
Image caption, The college aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the government's carbon neutral target

Gloucestershire College has started a £4.8m project as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2030.

On Friday engineers began drilling 40 boreholes at its Cheltenham campus.

The holes will be 40m (130ft) deep and house heat pumps to harness natural heat from the earth and provide a source of renewable energy for the campus buildings.

College principal Matthew Burgess said: "Becoming carbon-zero is the biggest and most important goal we can have."

Mr Burgess added: "Within less than 10 years all our campuses will be match fit for carbon zero.

"In the meantime, we will continue to engage and educate our staff, students and the wider community on the importance of acting now for climate change, and how we can all work together to help save our planet."

Image source, Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media Ltd
Image caption, Engineers began drilling bore holes at the campus on Friday

The GC Zero project was part-funded with a £2.8m grant secured through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, via Salix, and with sustainability and environmental group Hillside Environmental Services.

The launch ceremony was attended by Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, Mr Burgess and a new group of construction students.

Mr Chalk said that "decisive action to drive down carbon emissions is essential" to hit the target of keeping global temperatures within 1.5C of pre-industrial times.

He added: "I congratulate Gloucestershire College on the focus they have given to this priority."

Image source, Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media Ltd
Image caption, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk and GC Principal Matthew Burgess were on site to witness the start of the drilling

The aim is for all of the holes to have been drilled by December.

Russel Burton, founder of Hillside Environmental Services, said colleges "hold a unique and powerful platform in their communities" and using their influence to educate people about climate change was key to solving the issue.

He added: "The project that Gloucestershire College has embarked upon... is a deep and meaningful move away from fossil fuels and a beacon for its communities to follow in addressing the climate emergency."

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