PLANS for more than 50 solar panels as part of a system to improve the heating at a Haddington church have been described as being part of “an exciting and innovative project”.

St Mary’s Parish Church is proposing air source heat pumps and solar panels be put in place at the building.

The application, which was approved last week, was highlighted in the church’s newsletter.

Stewart Meikle, from the Sidegate church, said: “The Kirk Session has been investigating ways of improving the heating in the church, whilst at the same time minimising our impact on the environment.

“The existing heating system is old and out of date, is not very efficient and is totally reliant on fossil fuel (gas).

“To find out what might be possible, the Kirk Session engaged heating consultant Andrew MacOwen and Wham Architecture to carry out a feasibility study.

“Both professionals were recommended by the Church of Scotland and have good experience on similar projects in other historic buildings.

“It revealed that by using a combination of solar panels, air source heat pumps, improved insulation and more modern gas boilers, we could heat the church more efficiently whilst at the same time cutting down our carbon emissions.”

The application highlights that a total of 54 solar panels and two air source heat pumps are planned for the flat roof space above the south-west aisle of the church.

Mr Meikle added: “These will be barely visible from ground level due to the parapet wall.

“A planning submission is currently being progressed with East Lothian Council and Historic Environment Scotland as part of the work to investigate what is possible.

“At the moment, no firm decisions have been made as to when we might proceed, and all proposals would be subject to Presbytery approval and grant funding being made available.

“This is an exciting and innovative project that we believe future proofs our church building, whilst also playing our part in preserving the environment for future generations.”