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£5.2 million to be issued to 114 churches to achieve net-zero target

04 July 2024

Grants to be distributed to the highest carbon-emitting churches in England

Church of England

Nicholas Jackson, building surveyor and church fabric officer, on the roof of St Peter Mancroft with the new solar panels

Nicholas Jackson, building surveyor and church fabric officer, on the roof of St Peter Mancroft with the new solar panels

MILLIONS of pounds are to be distributed in grants to 114 of the highest carbon-emitting churches in England in a push to meet the Church’s target to reach net-zero by 2030, it was announced on Thursday.

The £5.2 million Demonstrator Churches project from the Church’s Net Zero Programme, which is funded by the Church Commissioners, is to develop green solutions, including solar panels, heat pumps, insulation, secondary glazing, LED lighting, and infrared heating systems. It will also pay for independent technical advice and fund-raising consultancy support.

‘We’ve received a prayer for less cloud so that the solar panels work more efficiently’

A further £1.5 million is to be distributed in grants by the Benefact Trust to implement projects over the next two years.

The aim is to reduce carbon emissions by 6615 tonnes by 2030. The project and grants manager for the Demonstrator Churches project, Abi Hiscock, said: “Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that, with the right support and infrastructure, churches from diverse settings and facing a variety of challenges can reach net zero by 2030.”

The churches will be monitored and used as case studies to support others.

One of the first grant-recipients is St Peter Mancroft, in Norwich — the largest of the 31 surviving medieval parish churches in the city. The Grade I listed church has received a grant of £50,000, plus co-funding of £36,000 from the Benefact Trust, to replace its interior lighting system and install heat pumps, batteries, and 48 solar panels. The work is predicted to reduce emissions by 84 per cent, saving 52.26 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who leads on environmental issues, said: “As a major historic building in the centre of Norwich, their work will have widespread interest. Their selection as a national demonstrator project also means that their learning will be shared and they will be able to encourage other church communities.”

Church of EnglandThe Vicar of St Peter Mancroft, Canon Edward Carter

Shortly after the Vicar of St Peter Mancroft, Canon Edward Carter, arrived in 2018, one of the main gas boilers failed. The previous year it was discovered that the lighting needed replacing: the inflexible sodium lights had been burning for decades. Work on installing solar panels on the southern roof began in March (News, 2 February).

Canon Carter said: “It’s so satisfying to see this project finally come to fruition. It is a comprehensive project to a Grade I listed church at a time when the net zero agenda is one of the Church of England’s top priorities.

“We are delighted to have been identified by the diocese of Norwich as a demonstrator church project. The entire installation process is being filmed for use as a resource for other parishes who may want to be doing this themselves.”

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