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West Leeds Church Installs 16 Solar Panels

St John’s C of E church at Farsley, Leeds has had 16 solar panels installed on its roof. Now worshippers are hoping the sun will shine even more than usual on them – because whenever it does it raises money for church funds.

And every ray of sunshine and hour of daylight is converted to electricity which will not only help heat and light the church, but also raise money by selling surplus electricity to the national grid – the electricity supply network.

The installation was the idea of an ecologically-enlightened and anonymous member of the congregation, who loaned the church the £11,000 cost of installation.

The big-hearted investor will be paid back over five to 11 years, depending on the outcome of an appeal by the Government to cut the amount of money it pays to small-scale electricity producers.

It should be 43.3p per unit of electricity, but the Government wants to reduce that to 21p. So far the Government is losing the battle, and has taken its case to the final stage of the court appeals process.

Rosie Tudge, wife of St John’s Vicar Paul Tudge, formerly at All Saints at Ilkley, is an enthusiastic supporter of the project – but said it didn’t happen without difficulties.

“Unlike domestic buildings we had to get planning permission from Leeds City Council,” she said.

“They were very sympathetic. We also then had to get permission from the Church of England.

“The church was built in 1843 and is a Grade 2 listed building. It took hours and weeks to prepare the paperwork.”

The church will be paid a tariff even for the electricity is uses itself.

“Once the person who loaned the money has been paid back it will raise money for the church,” said Mrs Tudge. “The Government is committed to the feed-in tariff for 25 years.”

She said the power generated could earn about £800 a year. The church has gas heating, but now that it is generating electricity it may start using electric heaters.

But the main motive for installing the panels was environmental, not financial. “We wanted to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Mrs Tudge.

By Peter Lazenby, Yorkshire Evening Post

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