Friday, 18 February 2011

Creating a Climate for Change

St Nicholas Fields, York are offering voluntary and community organisations free workshops for a sustainable and resilient future

This workshop will help your church become more sustainable and resilient to climate change. All voluntary and community organisations or social enterprises based in York or North Yorkshire are entitled to a FREE place. Limited places are available, though, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

This workshop will give you the skills and knowledge you need to help your group reduce carbon emissions and waste, improve your organisation’s resilience and, at the same time, stop wasting money. For more information, visit

Eleanor Course

Monday, 14 February 2011

Beverly Minster explores Photovoltaics

The Revd Jeremy Fletcher Writes:

Reducing the Footprint

There are lots of ways to generate electricity. Some of them leave a lasting footprint. Coal and Gas produce carbon, which accelerates global warming. Nuclear power produces waste which needs careful management for thousands of years.

Wind and water are increasingly used to provide ‘cleaner’ energy, and an obvious further source is the power of the sun. ‘Solar’ panels can be used to make hot water, and photovoltaic panels generate electricity. The newest ones simply need light, not sunshine. The Government sees the potential of this kind of energy production, and is making it financially worthwhile.

The Church of England is keen to play its part in reducing carbon emissions, with a target of an 80% reduction by 2050, and 42% by 2020 – only nine years away. Most strikingly, ancient churches all face the same way, with their largest expanse of roof getting maximum sunlight. And Beverley Minster’s roof is never shaded. Its potential for generating electricity is huge!

At the PCC on Monday 24 January we heard from Steve George, of the architects at NPS (and a long standing member of our congregation). With his architect daughter Alexa he encouraged us to think about how we might use the building to generate clean power. Could we install photovoltaic cells? What would the problems and opportunities be? What can we learn from other churches who have done this (like St James’ Piccadilly and St Denys’ Sleaford)?

NPS have offered to undertake a free feasibility study so that we can answer the technical, social, financial and aesthetic questions we will all have. In three months time we will have a better idea of what might be possible, and the PCC will discuss it again. It might be that it is technically too difficult. It may be that very visible panels won’t be acceptable to people in the community. But we must ask all the questions, and weigh up all the arguments. At Sleaford they are saving 4.5 tonnes of carbon a year – and lots of money too.

Jeremy has offered to share the results of this consultation and feasibility (whether positive or negative) so that we may all learn more about the implications of installing these new technologies on and around our historic churches.

Graham Andrews

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sand Hutton CE School gets grant for nature learning area

One of our church schools has received a grant to build a nature learning area. Congratulations Sand Hutton CE School!  Read about it here.

Eleanor Course

Bird Boxes in Stamford Bridge

The Revd Fran Wakefield, Vicar of Stamford Bridge, has contacted us to let us know what's going on in Stamford Bridge.

She said, "Forty people from St John's Church in Stamford Bridge, from grandparents to toddlers, arrived in the churchyard on Sunday 30th January armed with rakes, spades, ladders, trowels and hammers.  We were joined by volunteers from Stamford Bridge in Bloom, which made this a real community effort.

"In the space of two hours, we achieved the following: three existing nestboxes were checked and emptied out, and sixteen new tree sparrow nestboxes were put up in clusters.  Tree sparrows like to nest together, and we are luck in Stamford Bridge in having a good population of this species, which has declined alarmingly in recent years.  The church youth groups had supplemented the next box provided by the Archbishop by making another 15 of their own during a couple of evening meetings in January. 

"We made a bird feeding station, with two bird seed feeders and home made bird food cones.  Leaves were energetically raked into two huge leaf piles, and log and twig piles – we should get an influx of interesting bugs!  The churchyard changed from a sea of fallen leaves to green – we could then spot colonies of snowdrops just coming into flower.

"Because of the cold weather in the autumn, Stamford Bridge in Bloom were unable to plant all their daffodil bulbs.  Enthusiastic volunteers set to and planted no less than 250 bulbs to naturalise in the churchyard. 

"In the spring, we hope to plant a native hedge, and later on, we’ll check how many kinds of creepy crawlies have colonised our habitat piles, and we’ll monitor our bird-boxes to see if we have any inhabitants.  Some of our All Age services during the year will pick up the conservation theme.

"I was amazed and impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of all those who took part.  It transformed a bleak grey Sunday afternoon into a hive of activity and fun.  It has certainly got the Diocesan Year of the Environment off to a flying start in our parish."

Eleanor Course

Monday, 7 February 2011

York Minster Stone Auction

York Minster will be holding a Stone Auction on 16th February - is this an ingeneous way of making money through recycling?

During stonework restoration projects on the fabric of the Minster, stone replacement is often necessary to replace decayed or structurally unsound material. It is not always possible to remove complete stones which are to be replaced; they are often broken up during the removal process.

However, some are able to be removed in one piece and over many years a large number are collected and put in store. All material removed is recorded for the Minster’s archival records. A number of pieces are retained by the Minster as being of significance in the archaeological history of the building. There is not enough room to store every stone taken off the building, so the surplus stones will be auctioned and reinvested in the restoration of the Minster.

Individual lots will be available ranging from complex tracery panels to smaller stones with simpler masonry detail. Larger stones could be used as stand-alone garden features, or used to enhance a garden pond or rockery. Some pieces could be used indoors as bases for table lamps or just as ornament. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the current programme of conservation and restoration at York Minster.

What do you think?

Eleanor Course

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Save our Forests

The Forestry Commission owns hundreds of ancient woods, and Defra is proposing a new approach to ownership and management of woodlands and forests, with a reducing role for the state and a growing role for the private sector and civil society.

Lots of people, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, are urging the government not to sell off Britain's forests - if you want to join them, you can sign petitions with the Woodland Trust or 38 Degrees.

Eleanor Course

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Easingwold Church gets the bird (hopefully)

Michael Wansborough from St John the Baptist and All Saints, Easingwold, sent us this great picture of  Churchwarden Ian Peel, saying "Ian had to call on all his old naval experience of swarming up the rigging to furl the sails and splice the main brace last week, as he clambered up a ladder in the churchyard to install a new nesting box for the local avian wildlife.  Now we just have to hope that some suitable tenants have survived the winter.  We’ll keep you posted!"