Action Zones 

Churches urged to reduce carbon footprint

StPeterMancroftNightParishes across Norfolk are to be urged to limit the amount of nights their churches are lit up in a bid to help them reduce their carbon footprint.

The suggestion is part of a number of measures highlighted in a new guide from the Church of England, called Don't Stop at the Lights, which offers a year-long programme of practical action to help churches become more environmentally friendly and better cope with rising energy prices.

The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev David Atkinson (pictured below), said: "This initiative is part of a set of resources the Church of England is providing to help churches live more sustainably and be more conscious of energy use and energy efficiency.

"In the Norwich Diocese we are working to an environmental policy which is encouraging all our church organisations and congregations to be more environmentally aware, and this new publication from the Church of England will be a great help in promoting that."

DavidAtkinsonWebThis new guide suggests that, as well as limiting the number of nights churches are floodlit, members of the congregation and the wider community should be invited to sponsor an evening's illumination in memory of a loved one or to mark an anniversary.

Other initiatives it would like see introduced are:

Setting up decoration swap shops during Advent.

Using Lent as an opportunity to carry out an internal environmental audit and set new targets.

Re-focusing the role of the Church in preserving justice and extending charity.

The 148-page guide has been written by former Church of England environment adviser Claire Foster, and David Shreeve, a current adviser to the Church and director of The Conservation Foundation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: "All Christians have an important role to play in developing their own environmental awareness and encouraging it in others. I am delighted that the Church of England now has this helpful guide."

In 2005 the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Graham Smith, threatened to switch off the floodlights for Norwich Cathedral unless somebody else footed the energy bill. At the time he revealed it cost £2,500 a day to run the cathedral with much reliance on donations. He said he hoped Norwich City Council would step in to help because the cathedral benefitted the city as a whole and was an integral part of attracting tourism.

Just hours before the Dean was due to switch off the cathedral's floodlights because of lack of cash the council agreed to help finance the lights.

However, last Christmas, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said people who festoon their homes in Christmas lights were creating "minor ecological disaster zones".

Article and pictures courtesy of