A Lancashire rural hall has been given a large allowance of funding to help in the provision of solar energy technology for the building.

Gisburn Festival Hall has received a total of £36,000 to add panels to the building in order to reduce running costs and carbon emissions.

The building’s long-term future had a shadow cast over it in recent times, due to the Bentlea Road building struggling to keep up with the increasing energy bills.

With this mounting concern, the trust organisation that helps to run the hall wasdelighted to receive a short-term loan to carry out the improvements, which will then be paid back once the funding is received from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

In addition to the grant money, up to £10,000 has already been approved by the Ribble Valley Council in further grant funding, as well as £2,950 from contributions given to the hall via fundraising, taking the total cost up to £48,950.

Chairman of the hall Giles Bridge said that costs due to the current boiler and central heating systems have been increasing, as well as the systems being particularly difficult to maintain. At present, heating costs account for approximately 40 per cent of the hall’s total yearly expenditure.

“The problems with the reliability of the current heating system have caused the hall to lose a number of regular bookings, mainly for fitness-related activities. The long-term viability of the hall is therefore at risk unless we improve the reliability of the heating system and reduce our heating costs,” Mr Bridge said.

While the initial plans include improvements to the insulation of the main hall, installation of an air-source heat pump and under-floor heating, further plans are to power the heat pump using solar panels.

Councillor Richard Sherras, representative of Gisburn, said that this is a very positive thing, in order to secure the building’s long-term future.