Let there be green light! Church to get solar panels

St Mary's in Primrose Hill faced planning obstacles

Friday, 4th February — By Harry Taylor

pics2022feb3 Image 2022-02-04 at 00.11.35 (19)

St Mary’s Church

PARISHIONERS at a Primrose Hill church will be seeking the benefits of a higher power source after a planning inspector backed them over installing solar panels on its roof.

St Mary’s will now be able to install two rows of panels on the church in Elsworthy Road after a saga that stretches back more than three years.

Camden turned down the initial application over conservation concerns.

The church, finished in 1872, is Grade II-listed and planning officers initially believed adding solar panels would damage the historic character of the church. There were also concerns about the view from the back of Primrose Hill looking at it.

The plans were eventually resubmitted in February 2020, a month before the start of the pandemic. Signatures were gathered showing public support for it.

However, after silence from Camden officers, they decided to force the issue and take it to a planning appeal. Months later, and they have won.

Church treasurer Ted Ruscoe said: “It brought a huge smile to my face, and our vicar’s, who has been really supportive all the way through. Everyone is very happy and I think it’s a big boost to the church that we’ve got this.”

He said that they will now look for grants and crowdfunding to help reach the £43,000 target. The church has spent thousands on legal fees, and while the planning inspector John Dowsett said Camden would have to pay costs, it won’t reimburse all of the existing sums.

He added that the church’s plans had been motivated by both the environmental benefits, as well as cost savings to the church. The 58 panels will generate enough electricity that the National Grid will end up buying some power back from them. The panels will be grey and blue, to match the existing slate on the roof.

Mr Ruscoe said: “We’ve been trying as much as we can to keep our energy bills down.

But we were astonished when we initially spoke to Camden and they said it wasn’t possible.

“We’ve been told that by 2030 all gas heaters are out, we’ve already got rid of our mainframe, but heat pumps at the time just weren’t the answer.

“Our congregation has been really excited about being more green and environmentally friendly, they want to improve the quality of our air.

“Camden has spoken about wanting to be a green borough, but from our experience they made it harder not easier.”

They are hoping to have the panels installed by the end of 2022.

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