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Environmental Group

Facilitator: Revd Ysmena Pentelow

We have a responsibility from God to care for the beautiful world he has made and to love our neighbours who share it with us. In line with global commitments made by governments, the Church of England has set its own target of “Net-Zero” carbon emissions by 2030. As parish churches we have our own part to play in this and in responsible creation-care more widely.

This group will look at what can be done by churches and church members that will make a positive difference. To read the group’s terms of reference in a new tab, click here.

To join this group, complete the short form at this link.
There is information on the Diocesan website at this link and on the Church of England’s own website at this link.

Current Actions

Has your PCC discussed the Church of England’s helpful document, The Practical Path to Net Zero? Read it here.

March 2023

At the Synod Meeting in March, the following actions were reported.


The very small parish churchyard is surrounded by agricultural land which allowed an environment of trees, shrubs and wildflowers to flourish, and rare Hawfinches were present.  Inside the church, bulbs were gradually being replaced by LED lights and although the heating was ancient it was efficient thanks to an excellent electrician who maintained and monitored the system.

St Mary, Ware

  • In early 2022 we registered for the A Rocha Eco Audit.  Of the 5 sections on worship, buildings, land use, community and global engagement and lifestyle the only one we couldn’t complete to at least Bronze award standard was Land Use/Environment.
  • Actions included initial contact with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust for advice on wildlife areas in churchyards.  Online resources were useful for this (St Albans dioceses Living Churchyards; Shropshire-based Caring for God’s Acre; Love your Burial ground/CCN) Churches Count on Nature – 11th – 12th June 2022.  This was completed by various church members for varying amounts of time at different times over the weekend.  We counted 72 different flowering plants and 15-30 different types of trees, birds and insects.  We aim to do it again this year. Registration has just opened.
  • A workgroup installed a bike rack by the Linkway door – officially “opened” by the Mayor of Ware in the summer as the Town Council had helped with funding this.
  • We spoke to Ware Swift Group in July about installing swift boxes in the tower before next year’s swift arrivals in mid-April.  This has recently been spec’d out by Gavin Vicary (who builds the boxes).  The Tower Captain/Fabric Committee chair is going to do the practical plan with Gavin and a volunteer carpenter and Gavin is registered to take the application through the Diocese.
  • Other plans: reinstatement of a small wildflower area – perhaps near the bike rack – to replace the unpopular one trialled some years ago and/or a herb garden.

St Andrew, Little Berkhamsted

The church is undertaking a two-year project to make their churchyard more environmentally friendly.  The had received diocesan advice and suggestions about creating a habitat to encourage insects and wildflowers. They had also installed bird boxes.

All Saints, Hertford

Two Environment Saturdays were held where participants had looked at Climate Change, Net Zero Emissions and Green Watch campaign.  They had received a grant for their Energy Footprint and Audit which they had completed for 2019 and 2021.  They try to recycle as much as possible and ran a Christmas Tree Exhibition with local schools using recycled material.

St Mary, Essendon

St Mary’s had signed up to the “Eco Churches” scheme four years ago, developing wildflowers and grasses.  They had installed hedgehog nesting boxes.  They had also set up a water collecting scheme and were gradually changing to LED lights and replacing the heating system.  They needed extra funding and were applying for grants and faculties and planning permissions.

St John the Evangelist, High Cross

The PCC had only recently started to develop their environment strategy.  They were looking at replacing their old boiler but the difficulties of trying to lay gas supplies and digging up the church yard had left them re-thinking the options.  They had also installed bug hotels.

St Mary, Thundridge

Rare Meadow Saxifrage is growing in the churchyard, and a wildlife and wildflower survey is currently being arranged with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

St Dunstan, Hunsdon

As their parish church was away from the village and had a very poor heating system, during the winter (with the bishop’s permission) they had moved to worshipping in the school hall in the village which was warmer and also accessible for pedestrians.  They are also considering changing electricity supply to ensure it comes from renewable sources.  A recent alteration means the heating can be controlled remotely (on/off) saving fuel emissions driving to the church to reset the timer.

Christ Church, Ware

Following their refurbishment when all eco and green issues were taken into consideration, they had received the A Rocha Silver Award.  They were now encouraging their congregation to look at their own environment and lifestyle and consider options for improving the environment.

St Andrew, Hertford

Looking to become an Eco Church and hoping to turn their commitment into action by setting up a working committee with two members of the PCC taking the lead.  They are working to renew and improve insulation in their Victorian church and investigating solar panels.  They will also be looking at an audit of wildlife in the church grounds and know they have jackdaws nesting.

St Michael and All Angels, Waterford

Have replaced lights with LED bulbs and are working in the churchyard to make it more wildlife friendly.  They are currently exploring what the next initiatives should be.

Holy Trinity, Wareside

Having previously rented sheep to graze the churchyard (until a dog killed one of the sheep), the PCC has now agreed to allow large sections of the older churchyard to be left wild for the benefit of pollinators and other wildlife.  A recent citizen science project exploring how much carbon is captured by churchyards was undertaken in conjunction with the Church of England and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.  Core soil samples were taken and submitted along with data relating to tree cover.  The PCC is currently awaiting results, which may help identify the best way to look after the churchyard.

St John the Baptist, Widford

The PCC is having to consider replacing its oil-fired boiler very soon.

Great Amwell with St Margarets and Stanstead Abbots

  • A new environmental policy was to be ratified by the PCCs the following week for the three churches in the Benefice.
  • An insect hotel and a couple of bird boxes for St Mary’s churchyard have been purchased.
  • St Mary’s is registered with the living churchyard scheme at the diocese and uses the diocesan portal to input carbon footprint results and other data.
  • Appropriate cups are used for tea/coffee and as much waste as possible is recycled.
  • Heating is only on when there is a real need: i.e. services, food bank hub drop in, and warm space.
  • There has always been a natural wildlife area in the churchyard.
  • A new boiler was installed in 2017 and there is also a new complete lighting system using LEDs.
  • The church is registered with A Rocha and working towards the bronze award – very close to achieving.