Emergency works procedure

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and church buildings

  • Please see the dedicated web page on Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for church buildings in Lichfield Diocese
  • The existing procedure below is for emergency works not relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Church buildings and churchyards

The following approved procedure for emergency works is based on the Church Buildings Council guidance note for PCCs on the management of trees in churchyards, which is applicable to managing comparable emergency works to churches and churchyards in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Dealing with a health and safety threat is an absolute priority, but it does not give free rein to proceed without necessary consultation with the diocese. It is not possible for an Archdeacon to issue urgent List B permission, but if a matter does require urgent consent, it is possible for the Diocesan Chancellor to issue an interim faculty. Likewise, it is not possible to issue retrospective List B permission; a confirmatory faculty would need to be sought.

However, certain situations, such as storm damage (to trees) or vehicle impact (to the churchyard boundary wall), may suddenly pose an immediate and substantial risk of harm to people or property, which may mean that there is not time to go through the formal permission process before dealing with the threat. Whenever possible, the Archdeacon and, where relevant, the Local Planning Authority (e.g. for legally-protected trees) should be contacted before any work is done.

Where there is concern about a hazard from a significant feature of a church or churchyard, the balance of risks and benefits should be assessed and various mitigation strategies considered.

The advice below should be followed only in an emergency, when authorisation cannot be obtained in advance:

  1. From a safe distance, compile evidence (photographs) of the risk of harm posed by the hazard, before any work is done.
  2. Do whatever work is judged to be the minimum necessary to make the church and its immediate setting safe – often the best answer is to fence off the area and attach a warning notice.
  3. Do not clear away on-the-spot evidence of the risk of harm posed by the hazard, such as rotten parts of a tree, but if appropriate leave this safely on site until the relevant people have had a chance to examine the material.
  4. Following contact, the Archdeacon may direct that a confirmatory faculty is needed. Notify the Local Planning Authority and apply for retrospective permission, if required.

In such circumstances, please follow this approved procedure and contact your Archdeacon direct.

Please note: There is a separate approved procedure for urgent works (i.e. non-emergency) to churches and churchyards in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Page last updated: 24th May 2021 10:04 AM