New changes to church legislation designed to help churches reach carbon net zero have been approved by General Synod, meeting this week.
Changes to the faculty jurisdiction rules - the Church’s equivalent of planning law - were voted through on Wednesday, February 9.
Most of the changes will make it easier for churches to make adaptations such as insulating pipes, draft-proofing doors and windows, fitting new non fossil fuel boilers, electric pew heaters, electric car charging points and soft furnishings to help worshippers feel warm and comfortable.
Meanwhile the installation of like-for-like fossil fuel boilers and new oil tanks will now be subject to a full faculty application.
An amendment designed to make it easier for churches to install wireless internet and broadband equipment was also approved.
These changes have been welcomed by the Diocese of Leeds’ Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), who work to help parishes care for their buildings in the best way and develop churches as centres of mission that serve God’s people, with due regard to their architecture, archaeology, art and history.
Lisa McIntyre, Church Buildings and Pastoral Reorganisation Team Leader, said: “Our DAC adopted environmental policies and supporting guidance last year, with an aim to encourage PCCs to proactively think about how they can positively work towards net zero carbon for their church buildings.
“It is very welcome to see the changes to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, which will further encourage PCCs towards this aim and the long-term sustainability of their buildings.
“Although we know it might be a big challenge for some churches, the DAC is always on hand to support PCCs with advice as they plan for change.”
The DAC’s environmental policies can be found here.
The rules come as part of a wide-ranging approach to meet the 2030 net-zero carbon target set by General Synod in February 2020.
As part of this work the Diocese of Leeds has a strategy to reach the carbon net zero target called Saving Creation, more on which can be found here.
Jemima Parker, Diocesan Environment Officer, said: “The changes are important to help align the faculty system to our journey to carbon net zero.
“We know we all need to move away from using fossil fuels, so any investment in new gas or oil boilers now need to be very carefully considered as they will probably still be in use long after the C of E 2030 carbon net zero target.”
The rules, duly amended, were approved with an overwhelming majority.
They will be laid before Parliament and come into effect on Friday, July 1, 2022.