THE Bishop of Edmonton visited a Finchley primary school yesterday to bless their newly installed solar panels.

Glorious sunshine greeted the Rt Revd Peter Wheatley at St Mary's Primary School in Dollis Park as he visited to see the new panels, which were turned on for the first time on Saturday.

It is estimated they will save the school around £400-per-year, and were erected at a cost of £30,000 with grants from British Gas and the Low Carbon Building Programme.

The panels were the brainchild of Lorna Jaffa, a deputy head who served the school for 28 years until her retirement at Easter.

She told the Times Series: “It's just so important to get the children thinking about the environment.

“Children can get the message to their parents as well and do things like turning off TVs instead of leaving them on standby and recycling.

“These solar panels will help us in our aim to achieve the Green Flag award and become a more energy efficient school.”

Brian Cuthbertson, the head of environmental change for the Diocese of London, said the solar panels were part of long-term goals to reduce the carbon footprint of all the Church's buildings.

He added: “St Mary's school is blazing a trail for renewable energy which we want all our schools to follow.

“We have a clear set of environmental objectives starting with climate change and reducing our energy use.”

The panels generate a DC currentwhich is converted into a higher voltage AC current which is pushed into the school's grid before any is drawn from the main network, so it is used first.

The scheme is one of only 11 in Britain to be given funding from the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow Fund.

Regional manager Helen Shenton said: “The fund comes from our customers using our green tariff, and a premium from that goes into a pot of money we use to fund these projects.

“We're delighted to be contributing toward these solar panels and helping St Mary's School become sustainable.”

Rt Rev Peter Wheatley said: “I am delighted that St Mary's School is a pioneer in the use of solar panels.  Care of God's creation is a priority for us all.”