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Ice rinks feel the chill of R22 phase out

MANY ice rinks faced with the need to change over from R22 may be forced to close due to the cost.
Ice rinks built in the 1970s and 1980s use R22 refrigerant or equivalent and under EU regulations, no virgin HCFCs will be available from January 1, 2010.

Scotland has witnessed a series of rink closures in the last few years including March's closure of Aberdeen's ice rink, and rink managers fear more will follow because of the phase-out.

Richard Stirling md of Edinburgh's Murrayfields Ice rink Ltd said 'We've gone full circle. We originally used ammonia as the refrigerant to maintain the rink but this was considered environmentally unfriendly. So in 1985 we got new plant which runs on R22. It now looks like we will go back to using ammonia.'

Murrayfields ice rink is open throughout the year and must run refrigeration24 hours a day but it generates its income from the 8-25 year olds who visit at weekends and school holidays. Murrayfields ice rink's electricity bill alone is £10,000 a month.

As is the case for many ice rinks, using alternative refrigerant will mean ditching its refrigeration plant, which was designed to specifically run on R22. Ice rink bosses believe buying new plant will cost them around £250,000.

'This change is going to cause major problems because if we want to stay open we must pay up for new plant. Murrayfields plant is far from being at the end of its useful life.

When asked what the future held for Murrayfields, Mr Stirling said “That I couldn’t answer. One way or another the company is committed to providing an ice rink in Edinburgh. Closure? I certainly hope not'.

Murrayfields like many of the ice rinks in Scotland has an annual maintenance contract with Star Refrigeration. Ice-skating, ice hockey and curling are popular at the rinks.

The annual meeting of the Scottish Ice Rink Association will be held at the start of May and refrigerant alternatives will be a key topic for debate.

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