SOLAR panels could be fitted to Otley Library following a rethink by council officials.

The Nelson Street property has been closed since December to allow major refurbishment works to be carried out.

The project will include installing a new toilet, repairing the heating system and fitting new carpets. Owners Leeds City Council, however, has been criticised for not taking the opportunity to also fit solar roof panels.

Following a meeting between Otley councillors and energy campaigners and city council officers last week, it now looks like that could now happen.

Otley Town Council Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: “I’m pleased to say that officers responded to my request for a solar panel installation to be included in their building refurbishment plans with the commitment to re-evaluate and progress the idea.

“Initially, their response indicated that their estimated payback time of eight and a half years on an £18,000 investment was too long, and not affordable.

“I challenged this, citing the work the town council commissioned for its Community Renewable Energy feasibility study. I’m delighted officers have responded so positively. It really looks now like it will be possible to see renewable, solar electricity generated on our refurbished Library roof.”

Cllr Georgeson had also updated officers on the Government’s latest position on offering incentives for solar schemes.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Following the announcement last Tuesday that there is to be new government funding for solar panels, Leeds City Council has agreed to explore if this could be available for solar panels on Otley Library.”

Town Councillor Mick Bradley (Green, Danefield), who was also at the meeting, said: “It looks promising. The main question now is how many panels we’ll get for the library, as it is a large roof space facing southerly.

“There are a number of other community buildings and local schools that could also benefit from solar.

“We also heard about efforts to improve the very low energy efficiency of the library - the refurbishment is expected to reduce running costs by 25 per cent to, possibly, as much as 50 per cent.”