19th Century church battles planning authority to cut carbon

St Paul's Church in Newton Abbott has overcome planning issues to have a new solar PV system, which is expected to save 1.8 tonnes of CO2 per annum, installed on its roof.

As a Grade I listed building, any alterations had to fully maintain the character of the 19th century church. This meant modern looking solar PV panels were turned down by the planning authority.

However, after years of ‘toing and froing’ with the planning authority, proposals to install solar slates, which blend into the exterior, were approved.

The church’s Reverend Russell Chamberlain said: “Opting for solar slates was a real game changer as far as the planning committee was concerned.

“The slates have allowed us to preserve the look of the church while generating renewable energy and lowering our carbon footprint.”

The church first started investigating a renewable energy solution around 2005 when its ecology group began looking at ways to reduce the church’s environmental impact.

“It’s taken a number of years to get here, but we finally have an excellent working solution – my only regret is that it has taken so long, as the initial grant funding we had access to would have enabled us to have a system twice the size installed,” added Chamberlain.

In addition to saving 1.8 tonnes of CO2 per annum, the new system is expected to provide a return on investment of 5.6% per year and generate a profit of £2,144 over 20 years.

Chamberlain said: “The slates are generating a significant amount of electricity and, thanks to a good summer, they’ve generated £213 in Feed-in tariff payments over the past three months.”

Leigh Stringer

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