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Climate threat is at the heart of York Minster’s bid for solar panels

22 November 2022


YORK MINSTER has applied for permission to install almost 200 photovoltaic panels that will generate electricity and protect it from extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The Minster submitted a proposal to the City of York Council on Friday to install 199 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle, which dates originally from 1361, but was rebuilt after a fire in 1829.

The panels would generate 75,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power each year, the Minster says. This would be addition to the 11000 kWh already being produced by panels on the roof of the Precinct’s Refectory.

The Archbishop of York voiced support for the proposals on Friday. He said: “The message from COP27 is that everyone has a role to play in effectively implementing the ambitious climate action required to meet the urgent needs of the planet. . . This installation, if approved, will go a huge way in supporting the future care and conservation of this significant monument.”

The Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, Alex McCallion, said: “With a climate emergency having been recognised worldwide, and City of York Council having set an ambition for York to be a net-zero-carbon city by 2030, alongside a similar pledge by the Church of England [News, 12 February 2020], it is timely that we are submitting this important planning application as the COP27 conference reaches its conclusion.”

Climate change posed a direct threat to the building, Mr McCallion said, with “extreme weather events brought about by climate change” having been identified as the “greatest threat to the fabric of our historic Minster”.

Bradford Cathedral installed 42 solar panels on its roof in 2011, as part of a drive which led to its becoming the first northern cathedral to gain the title “eco-cathedral” (News, 12 October 2010).

Gloucester Cathedral installed solar panels in 2016 (News, 25 November 2016). A website that monitors energy production reports that the solar panels have, to date, saved almost 50 tonnes of carbon emissions.

In July 2020, the Salisbury Journal reported that 93 solar panels had been installed on the roof of the city’s cathedral, providing an estimated 33,708 kWh of clean electricity per year.

The Chester Standard reported this summer that Chester Cathedral had begun to install solar panels. The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, said that the cathedral had a “responsibility to be sustainable”.


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