Solar Panels: York Minster

On 10 March 2023, we posted Solar Panels, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge which reported the Ecclesiastical Law Association summary of Re King’s College Chapel Cambridge [2023] ECC Ely 1; on the same day York Minster tweeted 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.

Extracts from the Minster’s Press Release are reproduced below. A more detailed analysis and comparison with King’s College, Cambridge, will follow. 

Solar panel approval for pioneering York Minster

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.

This important decarbonisation project forms part of the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan and is one of a number of sustainability projects taking place across the Precinct.

As the pioneering example of a heritage estate using a Neighbourhood Plan to map out its future, it seeks to safeguard the Minster for generations to come through a commitment to sustainability, biodiversity and wellbeing.

The 199 panels will be placed on the roof of the South Quire Aisle, originally dating from 1361, and will enable the Minster to generate 75,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually.

As well as contributing to meeting daytime power demand, surplus power generated by the panels will be stored in underground batteries and used to power the cathedral’s evening services and events.

There will also be a panel installed within the Minster itself displaying its energy production and carbon savings as it seeks to promote the importance of decarbonisation to the thousands of local, national and international visitors that appreciate York Minster.

The Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, said: “The Church of England has pledged to be net zero by 2030 and we are proud to be playing a significant role in not only helping to achieve this vision, but also inspiring other cathedrals to follow suit. We are incredibly pleased that City of York Council has recognised the importance of this intervention not just for the Minster, but for the wider city.

“We have consulted extensively with key stakeholders including Historic England and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England to ensure that the panels are sensitive to the Precinct’s historic architecture and wish to express our gratitude for their continued support up to this point.”

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said: “Through our adopted Neighbourhood Plan, we are committed to being an exemplar for the city and further afield. Our aim is to inspire individuals and other organisations to implement their own small changes to contribute to national and international efforts.

“The exceptional architectural and cultural value of the Minster underpins the international reputation of York as a city, which is why we are so committed to delivering important decarbonisation projects such as this one, in turn setting a leading example for other heritage institutions to follow.

“We thank City of York Council, Historic England, and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England for their partnership working in helping to deliver these ambitions as we all find our way to address the climate emergency, which is currently the greatest threat to the fabric of our historic Minster.”

For more information about the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan, visit:


These two projects are significant in that they provide quantified analyses of the potential carbon reductions which may be achieved on buildings of national importance, and therefore particularly sensitive to changes which impact on special architectural and historic interest of these buildings. Unsurprisingly, there has been some local opposition.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Solar Panels: York Minster" in Law & Religion UK, 11 March 2023,


4 thoughts on “Solar Panels: York Minster

  1. Given that almost every parish church has a south facing pitched roof, could this installation be seen as a precedent for a much wider climate project across the country? Has anyone researched the potential benefits and impacts?

    • There are certainly a number of consistory court judgments in which approval was granted for the installation of photovoltaics, early examples being Re St George, Kemp Town [2012] Chichester Const Ct, Hill Ch and Re St Francis Meir Heath [2013] Lichfield Const St, Eyre Ch.

      On the 22nd June 2015 The Rt Hon. Caroline Spelman MP answered two written questions on behalf of the Church Commissioners, relating to solar power on church buildings and community energy generation. She said inter alia

      “The Church of England’s Church Buildings Division offers advice and support to churches across the country who are seeking to generate energy from their roof. While this may not be appropriate for all sites there are a growing number of listed church buildings, currently over 200, who have successfully managed to install solar panels. One of the best examples of the use of solar panels is the 10th century All Saints Church in Wing, Buckinghamshire which has installed solar panels on the nave and south aisle roofs. More detailed advice can be found at

  2. Gloucester Cathedral has had 150 roof solar panels since 2016. As I recall, with substantial parapets they are not evident from ground level.

    • On checking back, we covered the CFCE Determination of 30 September 2015 which considered the solar panels on Gloucester Cathedral. This stated:

      “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.

      Representations in were received from SPAB, [letter of 21 September 2015], indicating no comments, and the application was approved”.

      The Cathedrals own web site confirms that 150 panels were installed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *