Sunday, 19 May 2019

‘Eco-church’ says it must help care for the planet

‘Eco-church’ says it must help care for the planet

A CHURCH in Henley wants to reduce its carbon footprint by installing more than 50 solar panels on the roof.

Plans have been submitted to fit 36 panels on the south face of Christ Church in Reading Road and another 16 on the south aspect of the adjoining community centre.

The church says the project has already been approved by the United Reformed Church synod’s listed buildings advisory committee.

It says the proposal is in response to “a Christian motivation for caring for our environment and the pressing need to respond to the global issue of climate change”.

It continues: “This project is part of a wider ‘greening’ initiative, including other projects to reduce our energy consumption.

“As a church, we have commenced the process of becoming an eco-church and would like to make the most of our large, south-facing roof to capture solar energy and turn it into electrical energy.

“This project is in response to a global concern about climate change and helps towards the UK’s commitment to cut manmade carbon emissions. We have biblical direction to care for our planet and solar panels would reduce the Christ Church community centre’s carbon footprint.”

Rev Glyn Millington, minister at Christ Church, said: “God has given us a wonderful world and we want to do our bit to look after it as well as save a little bit of money.

“This has been on the agenda for about a year now — it’s a slow process simply because of the planning permission. It came from the church elders but it was enthusiastically received by the church members and we received a lot of encouragement from local councillors.”

He said the project would cost about £30,000 and hoped the church would receive grants from the United Reformed Church, charitable trusts and local authorities.

He added: “The church will have to meet the bulk of expense itself for the installation. In principle, it has got to be good for the church and for the environment.”

Over the course of a year the Christ Church centre provides a community space for more than 100 groups, 38 of which are regular weekly users. Footfall is estimated to be almost 1,000 people a week.

The church recently undertook an energy audit and has already fitted high-efficiency thermal installation in one of the older halls while the existing light bulbs are being replaced with LED ones.

The church is also fund-raising for projects, including upgrading the current thermostatically controlled heating zones, draught exclusion and double-glazing repair work.

It says: “Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases that is responsible for causing climate change. Over 40 per cent of the UK’s manmade CO2 emissions result from electricity and gas usage.

“The Christ Church centre’s carbon footprint resulting from our electricity usage alone is nearly 20 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

“At Christ Church we are fortunate to have excellent premises and we are delighted to be able to share these premises with our local community.

“But their constant year-round use means that we have significant energy bills. Last year we spent £5,300 on electricity alone despite a very favourable price of 9.49p per KwH.

“This year, as electricity prices have risen, our bill is likely to rise by approximately £1,815.

“Solar panels will help us reduce our overall electricity bill and as such enable the Christ Church centre to maintain accessibility to all members of the local community. The solar panels will cut the overhead costs of running the centre.”

The church says the solar panels would provide up to 15KwP of power to the building.

Over the course of the year they would provide 12,000 KwH of electricity, resulting in a saving of 7,000kg of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to more than 170 tonnes over the lifetime of the system.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision on the application by January 7.

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