On Monday 4 January 2010 councillors in Newbury gave their official backing to plans to make a local church the first 'carbon neutral' place of worship in England.
St George’s Church in Andover Road, Newbury, plans to radically reduce its carbon footprint with the aim of making it zero by the end of 2011.
The project is likely to cost around £900,000.
The church says it currently has a carbon footprint of 15 tonnes per year, but by insulating the exterior walls of the building with a render finish and installing photovoltaic (solar) panels to the southern pitch of the nave chancel roof, it will be able to become carbon neutral, reports the local paper, Newbury Today (http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/ ).
The proposals were submitted to West Berkshire Council in November 2009. They also involve the creation of a glazed entrance lobby within the arcaded cloister to the north of the church, modifications to the car park, an un-stepped, wheelchair-friendly approach to the main entrance and the creation and reinforcement of a pathway through the churchyard.
The project was announced at a presentation last year attended by the leading climate change scientist, Sir John Houghton.
The Rev Paul Cowan from St George's said: “We didn’t feel that a small reduction to our carbon footprint was enough - because the effects of climate change are now becoming critical we concluded that this is the time to be truly radical and slash our carbon emissions to zero."
He continued: “Besides the environmental benefits, we’ll be turning a fairly cold and unwelcoming space into a warm, inviting and flexible venue for a much wider variety of community events. This is a win, win, win - for the environment, for the church congregation and for the local community of Wash Common.”
The priest, who is overseeing the green initiative, added: "This is not a project we are undertaking lightly."