‘Go green’ message says technology could help pay for churches' upkeep

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist’s impression of the solar panels on St Matthew’s Church An artist’s impression of the solar panels on St Matthew’s Church

Churches across the Bradford Diocese are being encouraged to go green by fitting solar panels to help pay for their upkeep.

St Matthew’s Church in Bankfoot has put in for planning permission to mount 16 solar panels on its stone roof and is waiting for a decision.

The hope is that by feeding power back into the National Grid from the panels, the church will help fuel itself and gradually be able to earn back some of the money the scheme costs, eventually helping to pay for the building’s future upkeep.

The company behind the scheme is Farsley-based renewable energy solution business Phoenix Works, which successfully fitted similar panels on the roof of Farsley Parish Church – also part of Bradford Diocese.

Bradford Archdeacon, the Venerable Dr David Lee, said decisions whether to opt for panels or not would be up to each church, but it was something the Diocese was happy to encourage.

“It’s something we would positively encourage them to talk about, how to be green in terms of carbon footprint and how to make the church more usable, which includes getting help to carry out repairs. Also by putting up panels it helps as a model encouraging other people and organisations to do the same and follow.”

He said thought should also be paid to keeping any visual impact minimal – if St Matthew’s gets the go-ahead its panels will be on the lower roof, away from the roadside.

Dr Lee said although preliminary discussion were happening in other churches across the diocese he was not aware of any that are as advanced in their plans as St Matthew’s.

Nicola Newby from Pheonix Works said it recently organised an open event for interested churches to come and find out more about the benefits solar panels could bring.

“The interest is out there, it makes sense. It’s a green investment and a way of earning a bit of money. Churches opting for the panels can apply for a feed-in tariff which gets paid to them by energy companies per kilowatt of what goes back into the grid,” she said.

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