- L&RUK posts
- Church of England – carbon reduction
- Church of England – stakeholder engagement
- Consistory court judgments
- Roman Catholic Church
Solar panels: assessment within faculty jurisdiction, Case Note, and observations on Re King’s College Chapel Cambridge  ECC Ely 1(16 March 2022).
Solar Panels: York Minster, York Minster announced the news that plans to install photovoltaic panels on the roof of York Minster have been approved by City of York Council (CoYC) and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, (11 March 2023).
Solar Panels, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, The need to replace the lead on the Chapel roof together with the pressing need to achieve net-zero carbon in accordance with the policy of the Church of England and of government has provided the catalyst for the application to install solar panels. The consistory court of the Ely Diocese considered the issues involved in Re King’s College Chapel Cambridge  ECC Ely 1. 10 March 2023).
Practicality of net-zero targets in the Church of England, A review of Re St. Saviour Croydon  ECC Swk 5, the first case to be considered in relation to the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022, (29 November 2022).
Synod endorsement for “net zero” plan, (11 July 2022).
House of Lords: Order paper for 14 April 2021, Select Committee to be appointed to consider the environment and climate change.
“Shale Gas and Fracking” – an assessment, The CofE briefing “Shale Gas and Fracking”.(20 January 2017).
COP-21: Didn’t we do well? In Law and religion round-up – 27th March 2016.
COP21: the Paris Agreement and the churches, (19 December 2015).
Church Commissioners sign PRI Montreal Pledge, (23 October 2015).
Religion and law round-up – 26th July, Laudato si’……(26 July 2015).
General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting, An examination of some climate change issues raised at General Synod, (15 July 2015).
Climate change and human rights – the Urgenda case. States’ legal obligations on climate change extend beyond international treaties and include independent legal obligations towards their citizens. Hague District Court’s landmark ruling held that the Netherlands must take more action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. (25 June 2015).
Environmental update: stone theft, wind farms, and global warming, (24 June 2015).
Religion and law round-up – 21st June, A high profile for climate change this week with a new Lambeth declaration, a mass lobby of Parliament and the Pope’s encyclical Laudato si’. (21 June 2015).
Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, (17 June 2015).
Law and religion round-up – 13th March Lord Stern, Pope Francis and Laudato Si’, (13 March 2013).
Church of England – carbon reduction
Synod endorsement for “net zero” plan, (11 July 2022).
“Net zero”, church heating, and the consistory courts – IV, Review of recent judgments and the forthcoming General Synod debate. (7 July 2022).
C of E July Synod: plans for “net zero carbon” by 2030. Plans to help 16,000 local churches and 4,500 schools reach carbon net zero by the end of the decade. These will be considered by General Synod on the afternoon of Friday 8 July 2022. (3 July 2022).
Underfloor heating: “net zero” considerations, A case note on Re All Saints Woodham  ECC Gui 1, (15 February 2022).
“Net zero” and the faculty jurisdiction The Church of England’s General Synod to be held at Church House, Westminster, 8 to 10 February 2020, will consider amendments to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 SI 2015/1568, as amended by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018 and SI 2019/1184. The relevant documents are Faculty Jurisdiction Amendment Rules, GS 2245 and Faculty Jurisdiction Amendment Rules Explanatory Notes, GS 2245 X. Amendments are proposed in three main areas:
- Requirement to have due regard to net zero guidance;
- Consultation before starting faculty proceedings; and
- Changes to Lists A and B
(23 January 2022)
Navigating the faculty system – CofE environment programme webinar. The Church’s October Environment Bulletin, with information on the autumn programme of net zero carbon webinars, plus information on several events linked to the COP26 climate talks. (1 October 2021).
“Net zero”, church heating, and the consistory courts – III, (16 September 2021).
“Net zero”, church heating, and the consistory courts – II, (9 June 2021).
“Net zero”, church heating, and the consistory courts – I, (24 May 2021)
“Net zero” in 2030 – a courageous decision?, (7 April 2021).
Call for C of E guidance on achievement of “net zero” GHG emissions, Law and religion round-up – 21st February 2021.
Towards net zero carbon for churches, A brief background to monitoring by the Church of England of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a summary and analysis of the new guidance note, and comments on its implementation. (12 May 2020).
Measuring the Footprint, Delivering the ambition?, The continued debate on the London/Truro Diocesan Synod Motion, 19 February 2019.
Shrinking the vision on emissions? General Synod and the London/Truro Diocesan Synod Motion, 16 July 2018.
Climate change and the CofE, (8 May 2015).
Church of England – stakeholder engagement
Shell’s climate change targets, 3 December 2018.
Church of England and the low carbon economy. Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) announced: investment and the transition towards a low carbon economy, (11 January 2017).
Church Commissioners and ExxonMobil – Update, Continuing momentum of Church Commissioners’ initiative, 13 April 2016.
Church Commissioners and ExxonMobil Commissioners’ challenge ExxonMobil’s attempt to silence climate change questions (25 February 2016).
Re St. Saviour Croydon  ECC Swk 5.The churchwardens applied for an interim faculty for the replacement of the existing gas boiler of the Grade II Victorian church with a new one. The Chancellor was satisfied that the Petitioners had carefully considered all the available options and that there was no alternative at reasonable cost to replacing the gas boiler with another gas boiler. Also, the urgency of the situation (a non-functioning boiler as winter approached) was a strong justification for granting a faculty. [Re St. Saviour Croydon  ECC Swk 5]
Re St. Mary the Virgin Welling  ECC Swk 3. The original gas boiler of the 1950s unlisted church had failed, been condemned as unsafe and removed. The Parochial Church Council wished to install a new heating system with new pipework and radiators and using a new gas boiler. The Church of England had a policy that its buildings should achieve net carbon neutrality by 2030. The Diocese of Southwark had a target of 2035. These policies suggested that churches should replace old gas heating systems with ‘green’ alternatives. However, in the present case the Chancellor decided that it would be unreasonable not to allow the present proposal and he therefore granted a faculty. [Re St. Mary the Virgin Welling  ECC Swk 3]
Re Christ Church Dore  ECC She 2. With regard to the heating element of the petition, Singleton Ch. commented:
“The Petitioner’s proposals include a new underfloor heating system and their present plan is that there a new more efficient gas boiler be installed. The Faculty Jurisdiction Amendment Rules of 2022 are now in force and although technically they may not apply to this longstanding matter it is appropriate for the Petitioners to review their proposals in this regard and have regard for the Net Zero guidance now in force and consider fully the alternatives to the use of fossil fuel for this church’s heating and lighting I urge them to do so in consultation with the DAC”. [Re Christ Church Dore  ECC She 2]
Re All Saints Harbury  ECC Cov 3. The proposed works to the church comprised electrical rewiring and new lighting; the installation of an audio-visual system; and a new heating system. The Diocesan Advisory Committee had some concerns about the proposal to install roof-mounted horizontal low temperature hot water radiant panel heaters.
Re St Mary the Virgin Fawley  ECC Oxf 3. The priest in charge and churchwardens petitioned for a faculty to permit reordering works, including the provision of kitchen servery and toilet facilities, a renewed heating system and the removal of some pews to create a more flexible space in the church, in order to advance the church’s worship and mission.
Re St. Leonard Southoe  ECC Ely 4. Faculty granted for reordering to include new underfloor heating; new flooring, new internal lighting and installation of 19 solar panels to the south slope of the nave and south aisle roofs; installation of an Air Source Heat Pump (“ASHP”),
Re St. Mary the Virgin Dedham  ECC Chd 2. The church’s oil-fired heating boiler, installed 35 years previously, had come to the end of its working life and spare parts were no longer available. The Chancellor granted a faculty, being satisfied that the petitioners had considered the Church of England’s ‘Net Zero Roadmap’ and the Church Building Council’s guidance, and that the petitioners had also considered several alternative options. The Chancellor made it a condition of the faculty (inter alia) that so far as was practicable, gas supplied under a green tariff was to be used for the new system.
Re St. Andrew Thursford  ECC Nor 1. Chancellor granted faculty for removal of 25 pews at the rear of the church and installation of new stained-glass window in the Chad Chapel, notwithstanding concerns from amenity societies. Also peripheral references to heating.
Re St. Gregory Sudbury  ECC SEI 2. The petitioners sought permission to introduce 15 quartz halogen heaters into the church and also replace the windows in the ringing chamber. The Chancellor was satisfied that there was a clear justification for carrying out the proposals, which would outweigh any harm caused by the introduction of the heaters. He granted a faculty for the heaters and also for the replacement windows for the ringing chamber.
Re St. Nicolas Great Bookham ECC Gui 3. “Keri Dearmer of the Church Buildings Council commented upon the proposal to install a gas boiler. The Council noted that the Church of England is working towards Net-Zero carbon by 2030. The Council would be able to support the installation of a gas boiler if it were clear that the choice was a result of the careful analysis of the options available and their carbon impact. The electric under-pew heaters for the Chancel were an appropriate solution, especially if combined with 100% renewable electricity from a green tariff. However, it noted that there was no energy audit submitted and therefore it was not possible to establish whether the proposed system was the most suitable solution” .
Following receipt of Chris Reading Associates’ study, the Church Buildings Council accepted that other heating options had been considered by the parish and was content with the proposed system [34(d)] .
Re All Saints Woodham ECC Gui 1. A new underfloor heating system was proposed for the church, and the proposals included replacing the wooden floor boards of the nave with hand-made tiles, and replacing the wood block flooring in the Lady Chapel with limestone. The Victorian Society was originally, on aesthetic grounds, against replacing the wooden floor boards and the wood block flooring. However, the evidence of the Senior Project Consultant was that wood flooring over the underfloor heating would be less thermally efficient. At a meeting of the Victorian Society, the Church Building Council and the Diocesan Advisory Committee, a compromise version of the specification for the design of the tile flooring was agreed. The Chancellor granted a faculty. Re All Saints Woodham  ECC Gui 1
Re St. Mary the Virgin Wheatley  ECC Oxf 8. The petitioners contended that the Victorian tiles needed to be removed to allow the replacement of all the flooring in the nave, in conjunction with the proposed new underfloor heating, in order to achieve a sufficient heat output. Although there are several reference to “underfloor heating” in the judgment, there is no reference to considerations of its impact on the church’s carbon emissions. Re St. Mary the Virgin Wheatley  ECC Oxf 8.
Re Christ Church Gosport  ECC Por 1. In January 2020, a Scheme for Pastoral Reorganisation was made and Strategic Development Funding has been secured for renovation works which are intended to encourage growth in weekly attendance and mission. With regard to the heating, the DAC had raised some concerns and in its notification of advice recommended that the specification be reviewed with the inspecting architect in the light of the Church of England’s policy on achieving carbon neutrality 16]. The parish subsequently indicated that it intended to reflect on the current proposal and that work on the heating system will be put on hold while it considers the implications of carbon neutrality. The Chancellor noted that any consideration of a replacement heating system must have regard to the Church of England’s policy and the wider commitment to securing carbon neutrality; and cited the recent judgment in Re St. Mary Oxted  ECC Swk.
He was satisfied that the proposed works were necessary for the church to achieve its aims and he granted a faculty, subject to conditions . With regard to the heating proposal,
“…the heating specification is to be reviewed and agreed with the inspecting architect in light of the Church of England’s policy on achieving carbon neutrality and of any guidance given by the Diocesan Advisory Committee; any revised proposals are to be submitted to the committee for further consideration and to the Chancellor for final approval before any installation work commences”.
[Re Christ Church Gosport  ECC Por 1
Re St. Peter Walsall  ECC Lic 4. A petition was submitted for the removal of pews and the pew platforms from the church, to be replaced with chairs featuring upholstered seat and back pads, and to replace the existing heating with 30 wall-mounted radiators together with underfloor pipes all heated by a gas-fired boiler. Noting that there was “a real need for any church to be adequately heated” , the Chancellor had concerns ” that the new system was to be based on a gas-fired boiler and that the papers before me did not address expressly either the February 2020 resolution of General Synod committing the Church of England to moving to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 or the subsequent guidance issued by the Church Buildings Council on ways of moving from fossil-fuel based heating systems” . However, on a site visit, he noted that the Vicar and churchwarden present on that visit were able to give me a detailed albeit oral summary of the investigations which had been undertaken.
In short the matter had been raised with the consultant advising the church on the proposals. His conclusions had been that the physical circumstances of the church and the surrounding churchyard meant that neither a ground-source nor an air pump heating system would be likely to be suitable in the current state of the technology. However, the heating system was such that it would be compatible with a non-fossil-fuel based heat source in the future .
“. In the light of that conclusion it has not been necessary for me to analyse the difference of emphasis between the approach adopted by Petchey Ch in Re St. Mark Mitcham  ECC Swk 5 and Re St. Mary Oxted  ECC Swk 1 and that of Humphries Ch in Re St. Thomas & St. Luke Dudley  ECC Wor 2. In short that is because I am satisfied both that the issue has been properly considered at the parish level and also that, albeit on limited material, there are proper grounds for concluding that the proposed system is the best option in the current state of the technology if the church is to be adequately heated.
. I do, however, follow Humphries Ch to the extent of imposing conditions similar but not identical to those imposed by her in St Thomas & St Luke, Dudley. It will be a condition of the grant of the faculty in respect of the new heating system that the Petitioners use their best endeavours to ensure both (a) that so far as practicable gas supplied under a green tariff shall be used and (b) that so far as practicable carbon emissions caused by any non-renewable gas used are off-set. The purpose of those conditions is to seek to minimise the adverse effects of the use of a gas-fired boiler.
Re Christ Church Worthing  ECC Chi 8. The Chancellor granted a faculty for reordering works, including inter alia the introduction of a new insulated suspended floor that is level with the retained central aisle; relocation of three large bore cast iron radiators to the new ‘pew line’ by the said pair of columns; and the introduction of wet trench heating within the new floor structure.
Re St. Thomas and St. Luke Dudley  ECC Wor 2. The Chancellor expressed her concerns regarding the proposed new gas-fired heating system, and “respectfully disagreed with the views expressed in the earlier judgments” which “may be read as suggesting that a chancellor should not consider the environmental implications of a proposal, at least where the petitioners have already done so” . However, she granted a faculty subject to a condition that gas supplied under a green tariff should be used where possible.
Re St. Chad Dunholme  ECC Lin 2. The CBC raised the issue of a renewable energy source suggesting an air or ground source heat pump, . The Petitioners acknowledged that this would be a major project and noted that the proposed heating system would be compatible with integration with an air/ground heat source heat pump in the future, [37, 38]. The Chancellor was satisfied that the works were appropriate and granted a faculty subject to conditions.
Re Peel Cathedral  EC Sodor 2. The Vicar General & Chancellor granted a faculty for the proposed reordering proposals, including inter alia a new floor with underfloor heating, although no details were given for its justification.
Re West Malling Abbey  ECC Roc [judgment, 12 April 2021; review here]. The judgment is principally concerned with the aesthetics of the globes around the existing lights. However, the Statement of Need includes a reference to “a desire [of the petitioners, Abbess Anne Clarke OSB and Mr Roger Molyneux, authorised to act on behalf of the Community] to reduce the use of energy to illuminate and heat the building”.
Re St. Mary Oxted  ECC Swk 1. [judgment 16 February 2021; reviewed in Call for C of E guidance on achievement of “net zero” GHG emissions]. Involved the replacement of an existing boiler where although there was a technically feasible “green” alternative, the running costs of which were considered to be prohibitively high. Chancellor Philip Petchey expressed reservations about approving a gas-fired boiler, bearing in mind the policy of the Church of England to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and stated:
“. …decisions about carbon neutrality should be taken at parish level and … it is not for Chancellors to seek to impose solutions through the clumsy mechanism of refusing otherwise acceptable proposals. But it does seem that, absent new technology coming to the rescue, the effect of a whole series of decisions like the one in the present case is likely to lead to the 2030 target being missed. I consider that this should be addressed in the guidance given to parishes by the National Church about the achievement of carbon neutrality and how they should address competing priorities in the formulation of their budgets“.
Call for C of E guidance on achievement of “net zero” GHG emissions, Re St Mary Oxted  ECC Swk 1, (21 February 2021). (v supra)
Re St. John the Evangelist Donisthorpe  ECC Lei 1. [judgment 27 February 2021; review here] The Chancellor granted a faculty for substantial internal reordering including a new heating system based on an oil-fired boiler. The parish had “diligently investigated many alternative systems of heating” and engaged a specialist heating consultant during the process of preparing the Petition. However, “[u]ltimately it is cost that has forced the Petitioners’ hand in relation to the heating system to be used.” This is of particular significance since it is compromises the Church of England’s target of “net zero carbon emissions by 2030”, and issue explored further in “Net zero” in 2030 – a courageous decision?.
Re St. John the Baptist Capel  ECC Gui 2 . None of parishioner’s eight grounds of objection provided a reason for refusing the grant of a faculty for introduction of new lighting scheme into the 13th century Grade II* church. (29 April 2020).
Re St. Thomas Ashton-in-Makerfield  ECC Liv 1. Faculty granted for reordering including replacement heating scheme and underfloor heating. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had provided compelling evidence of need to justify the grant of a faculty for the major reordering.
Re St. Helen Worcester  ECC Wor 2. Faculty granted for major reordering of the city centre church, which was in poor repair and little used, with a view to improving it for worship and attracting more community use.
Re St. Luke Southport  ECC Liv 2. Faculty granted for installation of glazed timber screening to the south side transept chapel; disabled access to the chapel; and a new heating system.
Re St. Mark Mitcham  ECC Swk 5 . Judgment, 15 November 2020; review here] considered the replacement of an existing gas-fuelled heating system in the light of the Church’s “net zero” commitment. The court made reference to there earlier judgment Re St. Michael & All Angels Blackheath Park. [This was reviewed in Carbon neutrality and the consistory courts].
The judgment contains some comments by the Chancellor about the need for churches to work towards carbon neutrality in the context of the General Synod motion in February 2020  to . He expressed a hope that those who have to consider these matters in the wider church will find it helpful to have this judgment .
Carbon neutrality and the consistory courts, Re St. Mark Mitcham, (24 November 2020). (v supra).
Re St. Michael & All Angels Blackheath Park  ECC Swk 1. The Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the installation of external floodlighting. The judgment contains a discussion of the effect of floodlighting on the carbon footprint of the church.
Re St. Philip and St. James Whittington  Ecc Wor 1. There was no further consideration of the heating in the judgment, and the decision turned on the impact of the proposed extension on the veteran yew tree, i.e. about 500 to 1200 years old.
Re St. John the Baptist Suckley  ECC Wor 2. “. The heating has been the subject of detailed discussion with the DAC heating advisor, and it appears that all minor details have now been sorted out. And Historic England has apparently raised no objection. The Victorian Society appears not to have expressed a view as to the heating; but it has been consulted. There is no explicit statement as to there having been any public consultation on the heating; however, there has been full public discussion of the new floor, as described in the Statement of Need, and this would have almost inevitably involved mention of the heating.”
Re St. George Millom  ECC Car 2, in Ecclesiastical court judgments – July, 2 August 2016.
Re St Mary Moseley  Birmingham Const. Ct, Cardinal Ch. Chancellor considers proposal for heating in relation to Bishopsgate questions. (8 March 2011).
See also: “Net zero” in 2030 – a courageous decision?, supra, which summarizes recent judgments on “net zero”, (7 April 2021).
Re King’s College Chapel Cambridge  ECC Ely 1. The need to replace the lead on the Chapel roof together with the pressing need to achieve net-zero carbon in accordance with the policy of the Church of England and of government has provided the catalyst for the application to install solar panels. [Re King’s College Chapel Cambridge  ECC Ely 1]
Re St. Helen Burghwallis ECC She 1. The petitioners wished to re-tile the church roof reusing 70% of the old tiles, and also take the opportunity to fit insulation into the roof. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to conditions.
CFCE Determinations, Thursday 27 May 2021: Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chester. The installation of 206 Jinko 270W Solar Optimised Panels which will be fixed to aluminium frames. These frames will sit on the Quire, Nave and South Transept roofs without penetrating the fabric.
St Lukes, WestHolloway. On 14 November 2021, we reported on a story in the Church Times under the headline DAC blocks solar-panels plan for church roof in West Holloway, an issue on which the vicar had written Churches are keen to reach net zero but there are needless barriers in the way. In this article, the blame for blocking the petition was placed upon the Victorian Society. A follow-up article has been published in the Church Times which includes a measured response from the Victorian Society’s senior conservation adviser, James Hughes, who clarifies respective roles of National Amenity Societies, DACs and the consistory court. verb sap. (2 January 2021).
Re St. Paul Addlestone  ECC Gui 1. [judgment 2 March 2021; review here]. This was a successful application to install solar panels on the roof of an unlisted Victorian Church, the parish argued that the justification for the application was not only to save money by generating part of their own electricity (saving about 18% on its energy bills, up to ~£1,000 p.a.) but also expressly ‘to champion the environmental benefits of green sustainable power within the local community. (2 March 2020).
CFCE Decision, Hereford Cathedral: installation of solar panels on the Old Block of the Cathedral School (November 2018).
Court permits 40 solar panels on “Arts and Crafts” church, Re St Francis Meir Heath  Lichfield Const St, Eyre Ch, 3 August 2013.
Re St Mary Moseley  Birmingham Consistory Court, who granted a faculty for the installation of solar panels on a Grade II listed church, taking account of the approach taken by the planning inspector (who had already granted planning permission). However, Eyre Ch stated that though such a decision might be highly persuasive he would not be strictly bound by it; and neither the planning inspector nor Cardinal Ch were purporting to say that the installation of panels would always be appropriate and permissible.
Re St George, Kemp Town  Chichester Const Ct, Hill Ch.
Re St Francis Meir Heath  Lichfield Const St, Eyre Ch. See Court permits 40 solar panels on “Arts and Crafts” church, Re St Francis Meir Heath  Lichfield Const St, Eyre Ch. (13 August 2013).
Solar panels on listed churches, In June 2015, responding to a question from Bill Wiggin, then ten Second Church Estate Commissioner, Caroline Spelman, reported: “there are a growing number of listed church buildings, currently over 200, who have successfully managed to install solar panels. (21 June 2013).
Consistory court judgments and CFCE determinations – September 2015, Gloucester Cathedral, solar panels: To install around 180 solar photo-voltaic panels in a continuous array across the south slope of the nave roof of Gloucester Cathedral. This will generate around 27,000kW p/a, in order to reduce reliance on fossil-fuel created electricity by 20% in line with the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint policy. (24 September 2015).
After Laudato si’: Roman Catholic Church, Whilst Laudato si’ continues to provide inspirational guidance on climate change, much remains to be done within the Roman Catholic Church, (7 July 2015).
Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope, An analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, (30 June 2015).
Laudato si’ and carbon trading, Contrary to many reports, this post suggests that Laudato si’ is supportive of the principle of carbon trading, and analyses the reasons behind these misapprehensions which appear to stem from one unfortunately-worded section in the Encyclical. (23 June 2015).
Encyclicals, Pope Francis and the Environment, (16 June 2015).
Post last updated 27 September 2022 at 13:47.
Pingback: Law and religion round-up – 27th November | Law & Religion UK