Truro Cathedral has bowed to local pressure and backed down from immediately switching off its floodlights overnight.
It had planned to turn off the lights from 31st January in a bid to be more environmentally friendly and achieve the Church of England’s target of being carbon net zero by 2030.
However, after a social media petition opposing the move attracted hundreds of signatures, it has announced the lights will stay on for a shortened duration until the end of March. The situation will then be reviewed after feedback from stakeholders and better understanding of the community impact and the capital cost of replacing the lighting system.
The cost of floodlighting is paid by the Chapter of Truro Cathedral rather than the Diocese or Cornwall Council. Truro Cathedral doesn’t charge an entrance fee and relies on donations from visitors for its upkeep.
In a statement to Premier, the cathedral’s chief operating officer Sean O’Neill said :
“Existing income is barely sufficient to maintain the building, leaving little if anything to address large projects, even in a normal year, let alone after the debilitating effects of a pandemic.”
There have been suggestions that a new LED lighting system could be introduced, but Mr O’Neill said “at a time when we have water literally streaming through the roof into St Mary’s Aisle (the most historic part of the cathedral) and requiring urgent repairs costing £404,000 we cannot justify spending tens of thousands of pounds on a new flood-lighting system. There are also many other priorities which need our time, attention, and expenditure more urgently than the lighting.”
Canon Elly Sheard who is head of Creation Care at the Cathedral, told Premier that although the floodlights only use the same amount of carbon as half the emissions from an average car each year, it’s still important to make a change.
“Nobody ever made a worse mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little - we all need to do a little.
“The Cathedral is right in the centre of town, which is wonderful, because you step out of the door, and you're right within the midst of the community, which is exactly where all churches and Cathedrals should be. It looks wonderful, whether it's at night or in the day. The building is there as a beacon of hope and a part of the presence of God within the middle of Turo and we don't need the lights to do that.”
The Cathedral will continue to be floodlit at night on special occasions throughout the year.