The heat is on as church goes green

Rev Andrew France outside St Alban's Church at Earsdon  which is now heated by a new biomass pump house.
Rev Andrew France outside St Alban's Church at Earsdon which is now heated by a new biomass pump house.

THE heat is on for Earsdon’s St Alban’s Church now it has had a biomass boiler fitted after more than two years of efforts to amass the £100,000 needed to pay for it.

The church’s project team, led by the Reverend Andrew France, is still raising cash to pay for the boiler and associated equipment even now they are up and running as it had to take out a loan to hit its target.

The project was dreamt up by Andrew as he felt it would be wrong not to consider a greener option after the time came to replace the old gas boiler used to heat the church and the next-door Eccles Hall.

Almost 900 people signed up as supporters of the project with energy funding initiative Energyshare to boost its bid for funding in an X Factor-style public vote.

The project made it into the final six in its category but missed out on the big money, forcing it to look elsewhere for funding.

Andrew said: “The new boiler house was built during January and February with the equipment being installed in mid-February just in time for us to claim a large grant from the Building Research Establishment’s community sustainable energy programme.

“We have used about 80 metres of underground pipe to take heat to the Eccles Hall and St Alban’s Church.

“An archaeologist was present for the digging of the trench which made its way through the graveyard without disturbing any old graves.

“The turf has now knitted together, and it’s hard to see where the trench was dug.

“We have installed new radiators in St Alban’s Church, and the building is perfectly warm for our services.

“Crucially, the building is now warming up which is good for the internal fabric.”

Thanks to an £11,000 handout from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s local energy assessment fund, a ten-minute movie has been produced by Newcastle’s Arpeggio Films explaining the advantages of the new boiler, and two others like it elsewhere in the north east, and Andrew hopes it will boost his ongoing fundraising drive.

He said: “We continue raising funds for our project as we need to repay a £60,000 loan over five years.

“The church and wider community have embraced our project, and we are grateful for the ongoing support we receive.

“We have stopped using gas to heat St Alban’s Church, and we think this is a great achievement after more than two years of hard work.”