The Church of England is calling on the Government to slow down their plans to drop the rate of returns on electricity grid feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic panels to give churches, and other community groups, more time to complete installation. It is also asking for a special community tariff.
The online petition from the Archbishops’ Council’s Cathedral and Church Building Division has already attracted almost 1000 signatures from both individuals and groups. Already 35 CofE churches have photovoltaic panels installed and more than 300 are actively considering a project.
Installing photovoltaic panels on churches is a complex business and the 50% cut in return rate proposed for December 12 will penalize churches who are committed to installing photovoltaic panels, but will not have time to complete, says the petition.
The installation of photovoltaic panels is promoted across the CofE’s 44 dioceses as a way of using natural resources to reduce the carbon footprint of a church. The Church, through its national environment campaign Shrinking the Footprint, is committed to the Government’s carbon reduction targets of 80% by 2050.
Martyn Goss social responsibility officer for Exeter Diocese said; “This news is very disappointing. Here in the Southwest we have been encouraging churches to install panels and many will be adversely affected by this cut in tariff resulting in having the rug pulled from underneath them by such short-term political decision making”.
David Shreeve the Church of England’s national environment officer said: “The returns on a photovoltaic project will not be as financially attractive as they were and take longer to pay back. Whilst in the life of a church building this is not a long time it will take us into the next generation. As well as enabling churches to use renewable energy, we see photovoltaic panels on church roofs as setting a brilliant example to their local communities.”