The Cornerstone gets go ahead for solar panelsBy Laura Herbert
April 24, 2012
A Wokingham church and community centre is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint as plans to install solar panels were given the green light.
The Cornerstone was given the go-ahead from Wokingham Borough Council earlier this month to install 40 solar panels on the roof of the community centre in Norreys Avenue.
Robert Newman, team leader at The Cornerstone, said: “We are very pleased and our intention is to proceed with caution just to make sure that when we do it, we do it right.”
A previous application to install solar panels on the west-facing roof was refused by the council in December.
Mr Newman said: “The council was concerned about the visual appearance of them because it is a conservation area and the church is there.
“Through meeting with the council and talking it through with them, we arranged that if we put in this new application it would view it favourably.”
Buying and installing the solar panels is estimated to cost £25,000, but the team behind the planning application has applied for a grant from EDF, which would cover half the costs.
Mr Newman said: “We are currently one month into a three-month process and by June we are hoping to know whether or not we will have the funding.”
Of the solar panels he said: “It is very difficult to get permission to put anything on a listed building which detracts from the reason it is a listed building, and English Heritage were not very enthusiastic about it.
“From the church’s point of view it is very important we reduce our carbon footprint.
“The church community is looking at both its buildings. For the church itself, is extremely difficult to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint.
“It is an important part of what the church is trying to achieve.
“Both the buildings use electricity and gas so we have got to take the longer view about how we use that energy.
“The other thing we have got to think about is how should we heat the two buildings in a way which reduces our carbon footprint, which is really hard to do.
“We have got ideas about the church, but they are very conceptual.”
If the grant application is successful, the team will then look at ways to raise the remaining money needed.