Campaigners in Moseley are celebrating after parishioners of a 500-year-old church were given permission to install solar panels on its roof.
St Mary’s Church has been given the go-ahead by Judge Martin Cardinal, Chancellor of the Diocese of Birmingham, after a three-year process.
Planning inspector Paul Griffiths had already ruled that the photovoltaic panels would not be out of place on the slate roof of the church in St Mary’s Row last September.
His decision overruled an earlier Birmingham City Council decision to refuse permission for the 42 panels.
The church will now gain £35,000 British Gas funding towards the panels, after the Diocese of Birmingham, which had to follow a separate and lengthy process of evaluation, decided to back the plan.
Opponents of the plan, which included the Victorian Society and English Heritage, had feared that the decision would set a precedent for further modernisation of historic churches and buildings elsewhere in the country.
But the church, backed by green lobby group Sustainable Moseley (SusMo), argued that it would enable them to cut costly heating bills and generate income for the upkeep of the Grade II listed building.
John Dowell, the agent for St Mary’s Moseley Parochial Church Council, said: “The Chancellor's decision backs the views of the churchgoers, Moseley residents, and members of the wider public who have written in support, rather than the objectors who wished to preserve the church building exactly as it was in 1910.”
Mr Dowell said the decision brought St Mary’s in line with projects in other parts of the country‚ including London, Bath and Bristol, which are trying to find ways to cope with climate change and rising fuel prices.
SusMo chair Claire Spencer said: “This installation will ensure that St Mary’s is less reliant on energy from fossil fuels, and makes a great deal of financial sense.
“Visually, it sends a wonderful, positive message‚ the people of Moseley care deeply about its present, its future, and one another.”
Ms Spencer said they were now looking for match funding of £20,000 to get the panels installed and are exploring some options.
“It shouldn’t be a long process though.”