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Eco District

How Balwest got its Bronze

The new LED lamps in the schoolroom showing the high level of illumination and minimal shadows. A relatively low cost fix with benefits all round

We didn’t think anything about Eco Church until it was raised at the Circuit Meeting in December


At Balwest, which is a grade 2 listed building, we had arranged for LED lights to be fitted to the

Sunday School building as well as the stable and trap house buildings so I thought I’d look into it.

I went through the questionnaires and found that actually we were already almost there.

We had already registered to be a Fairtrade church years ago. All that was needed was to re-register and arrange for cleaning solutions, eg washing up liquid, to be changed as well as some of the general cleaning items. We have also become far more diligent with recycling.

In the cemetery we always leave the strimming until the primroses etc are going over but we also

have areas in the car park which are never strimmed and left to grow wild. Several years ago when the car park was refurbished we entered into an eco-project to plant wildlife friendly trees around the outside of the car park. Another box ticked.

In the chapel building itself we have recently replaced the old boiler with a much more efficient

model. All the bulbs were of various eco types already. We always hold collections for Water Aid,

Christian Aid and Leprosy. Every year we also hold One World Week services normally accompanied by a Traidcraft stall. If there is a natural disaster we tend to hold a collection. With all these ways we regularly raise awareness of ecological issues. Services also include prayers for the climate in the intercessions from time to time. Thus we achieved our bronze award. The replacement lighting showed the way!


Jeremy Boston


What next for Kehelland Chapel?


Going Eco has given Kehelland Chapel a new lease of life. The dwindling congregation reached the point where they decided they could no longer operate as a viable Chapel. The Chapel was not only a centre for worship but also formed a hub round which the local community had gathered for generations. The remaining chapel members were reluctant for the worshiping community to desert the village entirely and no one wanted to see the facilities lost by being sold off for development.


The strong community spirit had led to the Kehelland Community Interest Company (CIC) starting in April 2016, generally to protect the village environment and facilities for the residents. In a survey 100% of the residents thought there was a need for a community facility. The local Circuit Stewards, to whom responsibility for the buildings passed, were keen to explore options and Jason Hurr was delegated to oversee progress.


Working closely together, the Circuit team, the Kehelland CIC with other interested groups are developing a financially viable joint operation of the buildings and a long-term plan is being put together. While fulfilling the function of a community centre, priority will be given to any Methodist Church services. The Chapel had funds from a legacy for improvements so it was agreed that this should be used to upgrade the building. Increased usage meant reducing energy running costs would be a high priority to make any plan viable. The district Property Officer, Patrick Reynolds, was able to provide assistance in the planning of the project. 


New LED lights in both the hall and chapel are much brighter than the old ones, and a lot more energy efficient as well


In its past time as a Chapel, the current community hall had a balcony, long since removed, resulting in the opening windows being located very high up. They were not easy to open but more seriously they were difficult to close so tended to be very draughty. The solution was very ‘low tech’ with the installation of modern manual remote operating mechanisms so the building may be kept warmer in winter but cooler in summer.


There has been a complete overhaul of the heating and hot water systems. The new enlarged and much more efficient boiler runs additional radiators enabling the removal of radiant electric heaters. Building on the work done at Stithians Chapel, HVO fuel oil, made by enhancing recycled cooking oils, was adopted for the boiler. Under a pilot scheme being operated by local fuel supplier Mitchell and Webber, the fuel is being supplied at no charge, but when available commercially it will be significantly cheaper than conventional heating oils.


Mitchell and Webber have been in the forefront of trialling HVO fuel and are hoping that they can persuade more residential fuel oil users in the village to switch to HVO so that it can become a large- scale demonstration project to show the government what is possible as an alternative to heat pumps for dispersed rural communities.


Kehelland Chapel was formed in 1830 when there was significant mining activity in the area and thriving agricultural employment. It reached a membership of over 150 in the late Victorian period and over the years this had necessitated progressively larger chapels, leading to the group of building we now have with their energy inefficiencies. 

New fuel going being delivered..JPG
Adjusting the boiler for best performance..JPG

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)

A newly developed low-carbon liquid fuel, known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is on long term trials in the oil fired boiler at the first church in the country to conduct such trials, Stithians Methodist Church. Unlike previous biofuels, the fuel, produced from waste fats and oils, creates a greener, renewable resource. 

"We all appreciate the need to help the environment as a priority and these trials are to ensure the fuel will work well when converting existing setups." Explained Mr John Weedon. "We are pleased that only a low cost conversion is needed in many cases. So far tests are extremely promising, with all boilers performing well. 

Mitchell & Webber is the first company to start UK trials. Company Directors Robert and John Weedon see HVO as the potential replacement for every oil-reliant boiler across the country, offering net greenhouse gas CO2 reductions of up to 90%. 

John Weedon continued "we believe the best options will be those that are the least disruptive and most cost effective, which is exactly why we're such huge advocates of this future-ready fuel."

If the trials are successful, HVO an be rolled out for heating buildings current dependent on fossil oil. 

15p3 general view..jpg

Wild Garden

This wild garden project makes use of existing trees to help give an established look. Various pieces of wood are left around to rot and provide habitat for fungi and insects while some hard ground cover keeps an opening to the beds and provides a further variety of habitat. What were once called weeds because they were thought to grow in the wrong place, they now thrive and flower where they are wanted, catering for insects which form the base of the food chain and bees. 

"The wild flower garden in the front of the church building is looking good." Reports the minister, Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson. 

The mixture of plants gives a pleasing range of colour and shade, and moves away from the mono-culture of just one species of plant in a bed. The garden was planted out just before lockdown and has had time to settle in and mature to show itself off in the late spring sunshine. Because it has been designed with low maintenance in mind, it is easily tended by members of the Truro Methodist Church congregation. Funding for the project was provided by a donation from Wild Truro. 

Can you spot the bird boxes too?

16P wild garden.jpg
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