St Martin’s Church in Liskeard is one of more than 100 of the country’s highest carbon emitting churches to receive money to fund net zero projects which others can learn from as part of a new multi-million-pound project.

The £5.2M Demonstrator Churches project from the Church of England’s Net Zero Programme aims to help 114 churches in 2024 and 2025 pay for items such as solar panels, heat pumps, insulation, secondary glazing, LED lighting and infrared heating systems.

St Martin’s Church will receive a Stage One Preparatory grant towards their £1.5m to £2 million project to make their church centre net zero and improve its facilities. The grant includes a package of up to £18,000 in cash and access to in-kind support in the form of independent technical advice and fundraising consultancy support.

Mike Sturgess from St Martin’s Church said: “Having reordered our church in 2018, we are now focusing on this exciting and ambitious project to upgrade our church hall complex. Seeking funding for a project of this size is difficult and time consuming, which is why we are delighted to be awarded this stage 1 application, with the hope that it will continue to a stage two application, where we start the first phase of the building work. That work will involve replacing the 160-year-old roof, reusing as many of the original slates as possible, adding insulation, repairing or replacing the guttering and adding solar panels. Part of this stage of the project will also involve installing a “bat hotel” and nesting boxes for swifts.”

Ben Wood, Cut Carbon Support Officer for the Diocese of Truro, said: “Our diocese was asked to put forward up to five churches or church buildings that are the biggest carbon emitters in the diocese whilst being ‘shovel ready’ with plans to implement measures to cut carbon emissions and energy costs in a way that can be used as an example for others. St Martin’s has been successful, two are still pending a decision, and two were turned down.

“St Martin’s will provide a shining example of how an aged building can heat itself effectively using purely electrical power, much of which is renewable energy generated on site, providing a comfortable environment whilst slashing its energy bills.”

As work progresses, the network of Demonstrator Churches, which includes St Martin’s, will share what they have learned more widely with dioceses and parishes so that all Church of England churches can learn from their experiences.

Abi Hiscock, Project and Grants Manager for the Church of England’s Net Zero Demonstrator Churches Project, said: “Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that with the right support and infrastructure, churches from diverse settings and facing a variety of challenges can reach net zero by 2030.

“By the end of this project, we will have over 100 case studies on what to do and when, and what not to do. Along the way, the supported churches are all required to act as champions to other churches in their dioceses or geographically near to them, or simply to other churches working from similar baselines to them, so that the learnings from these projects engage, influence and support this vision.”

It is hoped the project will reduce carbon emissions by 6,615 tonnes by 2030 – targeting some of the highest emitting churches across the UK.

The Demonstrator Churches project is part of the Church of England’s ambitious Net Zero Carbon Programme which aims to equip, resource and support all parts of the Church to reduce carbon emissions from the energy used in its buildings, schools and through work-related transport by 2030.

In July 2022, General Synod approved a route map for the Church of England to strive to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Ben Wood.