The future of the lights at Truro Cathedral

Casting our minds back to February talk of the cathedral roof lights was a hot topic. We had announced that we were going to switch off the cathedral’s roof lights. The planned switch-off was a very visible signal of our commitment to the cathedral's journey towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Feedback from the public was extensive with strong views expressed both for and against our decision. We invited those with views to contact us and subsequently had direct feedback from 26 people over the eight weeks that followed.

Our executive team considered all the responses, the initial reactions, and the invited feedback at the end of March. At that time the consensus was largely unchanged with the responses not suggesting or raising anything which had not been considered in the original internal discussions. The hard decision to switch off the lights was upheld albeit with two follow-up actions.

The first was that the lights should be used to mark special national occasions and significant dates in the religious calendar throughout the year. The second was for a replacement low energy, low light pollution, biodiversity positive lighting system to be costed.

From April we adjusted the lighting to reflect this with the system going off, aside from on specified dates. Soon after this, issues began to arise with the ad-hoc use of the lights. Faults began to occur with the system causing an increasing number of lighting components to fail, condensation being a key contributing factor.

Many will have been saddened not to see the cathedral lit with roof lights as one of the jubilee beacons, which is something we had planned to do as one of these special occasions. However, in May we had to take the decision to begin decommissioning the cathedral’s existing roof lights due to the faults we have been experiencing meaning that it will no longer be feasible to illuminate the cathedral roof with the current system.

We have had a full replacement low carbon system properly costed and considered which comes in at £246,000. Given our urgent need to repair the roof on St Mary's Aisle along with other crucial repairs, we cannot prioritise a replacement lighting system. Some have suggested that a Crowdfunder or similar fundraising approach could be taken, but we cannot, due to the other demands on our fundraising, launch a campaign.

Given the original community interest in the lights, someone from the community may wish to come forward and wish to lead this fundraising, and we would love to have that conversation with anyone passionate about restoring the cathedral lights as a real community asset, which some have referred to as a beacon of light and hope.

We thank you for bearing with us over recent months as we awaited the final cost of a replacement lighting solution.

Sean O’Neill
Chief Operating Officer