Council's planning policy stands in the way of solar progress
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2011 at 9:06 am
West Lancashire Borough Council is the latest to be caught demanding that homeowners formally apply for permission to have solar panels installed – something the Government has said is not required.
The council is writing to residents telling them "it is in your own interest to submit a formal application to ascertain whether planning permission is required". It adds that this is necessary to avoid "possible enforcement action" should a development be carried out which requires planning permission. The council is further requesting a fee of £75 per application in return for a so called "Certificate of Lawfulness".
According to Bootle-based Eco Environments, the council’s move is “simply breathtaking” and a “blatant money grab”. David Hunt, one of the company’s directors and a member of the Low Carbon Economy Council for the Liverpool City Region, said: “West Lancs are trying to make £75 per household that wants to go green with no need or justification and all they are doing is putting people off.
“The Government’s rules are clear. Planning permission is not required unless you live in a listed building or conservation area and Building Regulations are not required as long as the homeowner uses a contractor under the Government’s Competent Person Scheme.
“Even in a conservation area, planning should be permitted and Building Regulations should not be necessary as long as the homeowner notifies the local authority and uses accredited installers. “The Government needs to make it absolutely clear to local authorities everywhere that they have a duty to adhere to these rules rather than standing in the way of progress.
“The majority of councils do comply, but a small number seem hell bent on causing as many problems as possible. By doing so, they are discouraging people from pursuing renewable energy solutions for their homes and cocking a snook at the Government’s environmental agenda.”
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, West Lancs isn't the only council that's confusing its electorate, and boosting its coffers, by charging for planning or building regs, even though solar panels are permitted development for the majority of domestic situations. Do name and shame your council if it's up to similar tricks. Either comment in the space below or send me an email.
Photo by pgegreenenergy
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
2 comments - read them below or add one