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ST Mary's tackling the climate emergency

St Mary’s Church, in its programme of renovation and renewal works, is taking action to reduce its carbon footprint and become net zero carbon by 2030.

As part of this action plan the project team are in discussions with the Totnes Renewal Energy Society (TRESOC) to explore the possible installation of solar panels on the church roof.

TRESOC was formed in 2007 by a group of Totnes residents concerned about the threat of depleting global oil and gas supplies and the impact of climate change. It has nearly 15 years of experience delivering renewable energy projects across a range of technologies.

TRESOC is proposing the installation of community owned solar PV on St Mary’s Church as part of its Totnes Solar Roofs for Energy Local Totnes project.

The electricity the church consumes on site will be sold to it at a discounted rate. The excess electricity that the church does not use will be sold into the Energy Local Totnes club, to provide low- cost electricity to local people.

It is proposed that the panels be installed on the south facing aspect of the roof, behind the parapet wall and so would not be visible from ground level or detract from the character or appearance of the Grade 1 Listed Building.

The discussions at an early stage and there are challenges along the way such as a structural survey to ensure the roof structure is sufficient.

Then it will be necessary to obtain planning approval and listed building consent from South Hams District Council, which will involve input from Historic England.

It will also be necessary to obtain permission from the Exeter Diocese which will involve input from heritage bodies.

Once all the permissions are in place the scheme can get underway. TRESOC will own, operate and maintain the solar panels and will raise the capital to install the panels through a community share-offer, which means all profits from the scheme will return to the local economy.

“Doing whatever we can to end fossil fuel dependency is vital,” The Rector of St Mary’s, Fr. Jim, said.

“I am delighted about this potential partnership with TRESOC.”

Dr Sally Murrall-Smith of TRESOC said, “We are excited to be working with St Mary’s on this courageous project and are grateful for their support of Energy Local Totnes”.

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