ALL Saints’ in Huntingdon could become the region’s first listed church to generate power from its roof.

The church council has applied for permission to install solar panels on the south side of the nave roof of the Grade II*-listed building in Market Hill.

The application includes ancillary equipment and re-leading of the roof.

The supplier involved, Freewatt Limited, based near Lincoln, has already installed photovoltaic panels on two Grade I-listed churches – in Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire.

All Saints' will have to persuade not only Huntingdonshire District Council's planners, but English Heritage and the Diocese of Ely's Advisory Committee on the care of churches (DAC).

Although the Council for the Care of Churches has promised to accept the DAC's opinion, according to churchwarden Michael Smale.

The installation, which is expected to cost about £14,000, is predicted to generate 3,200 KWH of electricity a year, giving the church a surplus of more than £700, even at the reduced 'feed-in tariff' proposed by the Government.

It will be funded by a substantial legacy left to the church by the family of former mayor and church warden William Henry Clayton.

The project also includes a real-time display showing parishioners and visitors the panels' output, how much is being transferred to the National Grid and other data.

If planning consent and the DAC's faculty are granted, the church hopes the week-long installation of the panel and associated equipment can start at the end of February following re-leading of the roof.

HDC's development manager Andy Moffatt said the proposed panels would be virtually invisible from ground level and from surrounding buildings, but there were concerns about the attachment of the panels to the roof and distributions of the power generated through the building.

The modern church building dates largely from the 15th century.

English Heritage said: “We have been consulted on plans to install 22 solar panels on the south side of the nave roof of All Saints' Church, Huntingdon. Installing the panels does introduce a modern element to this grade II* listed building, however, having considered this case very carefully and in view of the fact that the panels will be invisible from the street and from the highly graded Town Hall building, we were happy to give our consent in this case.”

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