Two Wigan primary schools are going green with a little help from the sun.

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Marsh Green and St James’ Catholic Primary In Orrell are being given an eco boost with free solar panels worth £20,000 each.

The schools are among the first to benefit from The Co-operative Group’s £1m national Green Energy for Schools scheme, which will provide free solar panels to 100 schools.

The panels, worth more than £20,000 to each school, are half funded through The Co-operative’s scheme with match funding from the Government’s Low Carbon Building Programme.

The rooftop solar panels will generate renewable electricity which will reduce the schools’ reliance on fossil fuels while highlighting the issue of climate change.  Denise Fulton, manager of The Co-operative food store in Marsh Green, Wigan, said: “As a community retailer with strong green credentials, it is appropriate that we are helping our local schools reduce their carbon footprint in this way. “As well as reducing the schools’ carbon dioxide emissions and cutting their electricity bills by generating renewable energy, the rooftop solar panels will serve as a prominent reminder to the whole community of the urgent need to tackle climate change.”

A monitor screen in the schools’ buildings will display how much energy the panels are generating and how much carbon dioxide they have saved to date. Schools will also be able to access their energy data on the Internet, along with educational materials which teachers can download for use in the classroom.

St James’ Catholic Primary School headteacher Paul Rigbye said: “To be one of the first schools in the country to receive free solar panels through The Co-operative’s Green Energy for Schools scheme is fantastic. “Schools have a vital role to play in educating the next generation about climate change and using this renewable energy technology to power our own premises will help us to really bring that message home to pupils, parents and staff.”

Marsh Green Primary School headteacher Peter Duffy added: “We have really embraced energy conservation as we are holders of the ECO Schools Gold Flag award. The solar panels will help us in our efforts to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.”

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