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Benefact Trust awards £1.5m in green grants to churches

14 March 2024

Clare Kendall

Children add to the “dead hedge” in the grounds of St George’s, Waterlooville, to encourage wildlife

Children add to the “dead hedge” in the grounds of St George’s, Waterlooville, to encourage wildlife

CHURCHES around the country are to benefit from a £1.5-million grant from the Benefact Trust towards meeting the Church of England’s ambitious target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 (News, 14 February 2020).

The funding, announced last Friday, is the Trust’s first strategic grant that focuses on the climate. Spread over two years (£750,000 a year), grants are to be distributed to 60 “Demonstrator Churches” — one of several initiatives announced last October as part of the Church Commissioners’ £30 million in funding to meet the 2030 target (News, 20 October 2023). A route map was agreed by the General Synod in 2022 (News, 15 July 2022).

These churches were to receive funding and technical support to become showcases of green practice that other churches could imitate. PCCs were invited to put themselves forward to the respective diocesan advisory committees. Those nominated can apply for a preparatory grant to help develop a net-zero project, and subsequently for a grant of up to £50,000 toward capital works.

The Benefact funding will mean that successful churches could receive up to an additional £36,000 towards eligible works.

Clare KendallJane Cook, the PCC secretary of St George’s, Waterlooville, with the bug hotel in the church grounds

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the lead bishop on the environment, said that the churches, “representing many different types of community and situations, aim to inspire and encourage others to see that achieving net zero is possible, and within their grasp. . . By taking practical action, we show God’s love for creation as well as ensuring that our buildings are fit for our worshipping life and service to local communities.”

The director of the C of E’s Net Zero Carbon Programme, Julian Atkins, said: “The funding which Benefact is providing will help us deliver a wide range of net-zero projects and help us move closer towards our goal.”

The director of Benefact, Helen Gray, said that it was “a privilege to work with the Church of England, who have bold and impactful plans, as we make significant steps in our commitment to tackling climate change”.

A video shown at the launch of the grants, during an interdenominational conference in Gloucester last week, gave examples of churches and cathedrals that were already taking such measures. They included Manchester Cathedral, Portsmouth Cathedral, St Denys’s, Southampton, and Christ Church, Brunswick, in Manchester.

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