A GRADE 1 listed church has become the first in the Craven Dales to announce it’s green credentials after being given the okay to install solar panels.

Members of Craven District Council’s planning committee approved the plans after hearing the parochial church council was anxious to save energy and reduce its carbon footprint.

A spokesman for the PCC said: “In line with current government policy on climate change, the long term aim is for the church to become carbon neutral and to encourage the local community to take action to reduce the village’s carbon footprint.”

The plans are to reduce carbon emissions in the heating and lighting of the church with a linear bank of 34 black photovoltaic panels on the roof of the south aisle.

Each panel will measure 1,675mm by 1,001mm.

More panels will be added as funds become available.

Overton Architects, on behalf of the PCC said: “We consider that the proposed development has zero detrimental impact on the significance of the church, but provides an essential sustainable future for this heritage asset that will ensure that it is preserved for future generations.”

Skipton Green Party councillor Andy Brown, who sits on the planning committee, said it was excellent news.

He said: “Well done Alkeldas for putting imaginative ideas into practice and using their church building as a force for good. They are to be congratulated for setting such a positive example.”

Church warden David Fox said: “I have been a resident in Giggleswick for 52 years. This proposal ticks every single important box.

“It offers an opportunity for the largest building in the village to move towards being carbon neutral. It could open up other opportunities for the church to be more fully integrated with the life of the village because the reduction in energy costs could release money for other projects.

A Heritage Advice statement from John Hinchcliffe, of Grassington, read: “As St Alkelda’s is a highly graded listed building within a conservation area, any proposal which might affect its special architectural or historic interest must be carefully considered, whether or not the impact can be seen from public vantage points.

“Historic England has also been consulted on this proposal at St Alkelda’s Church and raised no objection.

“ The solar panels are hidden from ground view by the parapet wall and crenellations, and fixed to a rail system that is weighed down by ballast above the lead roof.

“ On the basis of the above assessment, I consider that the proposal will cause no meaningful harm to the special interest of the church or the conservation area.”

The planning officer’s report before members stated: “On balance, it is considered that there are no adverse impacts arising from the proposal that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the overarching presumption in favour of sustainable development and therefore the application should be approved.”

The church did not require listed building consent as it is covered by the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order 2010.