'Green scheme' will harness energy from crematorium to heat swimming pool

A A A

Heat from a crematorium will be used to warm a leisure centre and swimming pool in Worcestershire in a controversial green scheme expected to be approved tonight.

The Abbey Stadium leisure centre in Redditch will use waste heat from neighbouring Redditch Crematorium to conserve energy and costs. But the proposal, the first of its kind in the UK, has divided opinion and been described as "sick", "eerie" and "insensitive".

The Conservative council leader, Carole Gandy, said she expects the proposal will be passed by councillors this evening after its executive committee unanimously recommended going ahead with the project last week. "It has all-party support," she said. "We estimate this method will provide 42 per cent of heat for the leisure centre, saving an estimated £15,000 a year. The use of waste heat energy is good practice and very innovative."

Unison called on Redditch council yesterday to reverse its likely decision. Roger McKenzie, a regional secretary for Unison West Midlands, who has described the heating method as "an insult to local residents", said: "It's never too late for the council to reconsider its proposals. The big issue that hasn't been considered is the very sensitive issue of consent: the council needs to explain how they are going to take into account the wishes of families who do not want their cremation to be used in the proposed fashion. Consent hasn't even entered the public debate."

Mr McKenzie previously called on the council to apologise for its "insulting and insensitive proposals". He said: "It shows the Conservatives know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Local authorities are increasingly pursuing desperate policies in a reaction to unprecedented spending cuts imposed from Whitehall."

Redditch Borough Council is building the new swimming pool, expected to open in May next year, and under the scheme would save a one-off £100,000 expense to buy heating equipment for the new pool. The council is upgrading the crematorium's equipment to reduce mercury emissions, as required by EUlegislation. Heat from the crematorium would be lost into the atmosphere if not captured. Funeral director Simon Thomas, of Thomas Brothers funeral directors in Redditch, said he thought the proposals were "eerie" when he first heard them. But he believes the plan has the support of more than 85 per cent of people living locally.

"People will get used to it, and I don't think it's a bad idea at all," he said. "We had a funeral service for my aunt last Friday, and I thought that she would like the idea that people were able to have fun as a consequence: the heat might as well be used rather than wasted. I don't think any of the controversy would have occurred if the heat was being used to warm the crematorium chapel and offices; it's simply that this is one extreme to the other: from bereavement to enjoyment."

Warwick District Council already uses waste heat from the abatement process to warm its chapel and crematoria buildings. But proposals to use heat from the furnace of Thornhill crematorium in Cardiff to warm its chapel were described as disrespectful and inappropriate last week by local councillor for Rhiwbina, Jayne Cowan.

Shlomo Dowen, national co-ordinator of the UK Without Incineration Network, said: "It does seem sensible that if cremations are to go ahead that the heat should be harnessed. I don't think this will put anyone off either cremation or swimming, but I can understand people's discomfort with the proposals."

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own