The Battle to 'Go Green':

Despite international concern about global warming we have found that 'going green' has not been easy!

We have had to push hard to get environmental features incorporated which go beyond 'run of the mill' building practices.

Navigating through the bureaucratic quagmire to get 'Clear Skies' grants for the PV tiles and wind turbine has been a nightmare.

Installation of the wind turbine was delayed by difficulties getting planning permission. Meanwhile our turbine supplier, Windsave, went into administration. We are continuing to research suitable alternatives so that we can complete this part of the project.

Perhaps the biggest problem we encountered was that, in order to get the new building connected to the grid system we had to agree to a long term contract with the company which supplied our previous building. However they insisted on treating the church as a business and refused to purchase any electricity that we produced! Consequently we received no payment for the first 3085 units (kWh) of electricity that we produced. It was not until this contract ended that we were able to switch, with effect from 14th June 2009, to a new supplier - Ecotricity - prepared to pay us for every unit of electricity that we generate.

We were delighted when the last Government finally introduced a "Feed-In Tariff" system (for which we had campaigned) only to find that PV equipment commissioned before 15th July 2009 would only be entitled to receive 9p per unit compared with at least 34p per unit for new installations. We feel that we have been penalised unfairly for being pioneers. Commendably, until recently Ecotricity paid a higher rate of 16p per unit from April 2010, compared with the 9p minimum rate they were obliged to pay by the regulations. However, this has now fallen back to the current standard rate for older systems of around 11p per unit.

The final twist to this saga concerns the 2010 General Election. During the campaign Mr Cameron, who later became Prime Minister, made a firm commitment if elected to extend the higher Feed-in Tariff rates to all 'existing' systems as well. Subsequently the then Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, announced that this promise would not be honoured!