Leisure facilities have warned of mass swimming pool closures across Scotland due to energy price hikes and chlorine shortages.
It comes after news that one of Aberdeen’s most popular community pools is set for closure due to soaring energy prices, with no signs of reopening before summer 2023.
An ongoing international shortage of chlorine is also affecting swimming pool facilities, forcing some public swimming pools to close.
Fife Sports and Leisure Trust warned customers on Wednesday that its facilities may be affected by the international shortage, attributed to various factors from a fire at an American factory to the war in Ukraine.
Insolvency aid organisation CompanyDebt dubbed the threat to the UK’s community pools “poolmageddon”, warning that the majority of public leisure facilities could be forced to close their doors within the next six months.
ukactive surveyed public leisure centre operators across the country, and found that 79% of them were likely to cease operations by the end of the year without support from the UK Government.
It also showed that potentially thousands of the country’s leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools may be lost within the next 18 months, as a result of rising energy costs which are estimated to have risen by from a sector total of £500m in 2019 to between £1bn and £1.2bn in 2022.
Earlier this month, a coalition of bodies in the physical activity sector wrote to the UK Government calling for urgent support to save leisure facilities from going under – as they face a rise in energy costs of up to 150% on last year.
In the letter, the organisations issued a stark warning about the consequences if facilities do not receive urgent relief from the Government.
Huw Edwards, chief executive officer of ukactive, said: “Many of our members have told us that rising energy bills have put them at real risk of closure. We need the Government to act, or these essential facilities will start to disappear from our communities very quickly, just as the UK prepares to host the Commonwealth Games this summer.”
The Royal Life Saving Society UK also warned that it was “unthinkable” that pool closures could mean more children losing out on learning to swim and how to enjoy water safely.
The charity said: “In 2020, swimming pools were closed due to Covid-19, and people flocked to beaches, rivers, lakes and other waters to have fun. Many children hadn’t had swimming lessons for some time and had missed out on their regular visits to the pool with friends or family.
“This resulted in a drop in water confidence and swimming ability and has unfortunately ultimately resulted in a year-on-year increase in UK accidental drownings through 2020 and 2021.”