Is your council blocking your solar PV installation?
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 May 2011 at 11:05 am
A new campaign is calling for local councils to stop making it difficult for householders to install renewable energy.
Government policy says that in most cases domestic renewable energy installations are permitted development. Yet this isn't stopping councils like Eden Valley in Cumbria from making people apply for building regs approval or planning permission.
We have joined installer Eco-Environments in calling on government to order councils to stop ignoring the law. Director, David Hunt, says: "The Government should publish a simple, definitive guide for councils to follow which makes it clear that there's not room for local authorities to make up their own rules and regulations. Perhaps then we will finally see a 100% consistent approach towards renewable energy schemes across the country."
Shadow energy & climate change ministers Huw Irranca-Davies and Luciana Berger have both promised to raise the matter in Parliament, as has Conservative MP Rory Stewart, whose constituency includes Eden Valley. He says: "Clearly, something has gone very wrong in the correct regulating of planning laws in relation to
solar panels. Installation of solar panels for both domestic and business use is - as you know - burgeoning across the country, and here in Cumbria it is becoming the energy source of choice for village hall committees, parish councils and community groups. It's absolutely imperative that individuals, businesses or community groups are able to install PV cells with a minimum of fuss and regulation."
David Hunt started the campaign after a customer of his came up against Eden Valley District Council's policy of insisting on people making a Building Regulations application at a cost of £100 a time.
A recent survey by Renewable Energy Installer magazine indicates that Eden Valley is not alone. Although solar panels were made permitted development in 2008, only 41 of the 251 councils that supplied information under its freedom of information requests correctly said that there was no need to apply for planning permission as it was a permitted development.
And despite a further rule change to allow solar panels to be installed in conservation areas, according to the figures supplied two of the three applications kicked out were in a conservation area.
The research found that in 2009 there were over 234 planning applications for solar panels, and this figure jumped to 403 applications in 2010 in England and Wales. As 71 councils failed to supply data, the real figure may be higher.
If you've had difficulties with your council, or know of someone who has, please let us know either in the comment box below, or through our contact form.
Photo: red tape by David J
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