Lights go out on solar panels bid

THE president of a Suffolk preservation group who wanted to “go green” by installing solar-panels on his roof has told of his shock after the plans were snubbed for clashing with an “unusually fine conservation area”.

Laurence Cawley

THE president of a Suffolk preservation group who wanted to “go green” by installing solar-panels on his roof has told of his shock after the plans were snubbed for clashing with an “unusually fine conservation area”.

Air Marshall Sir Reginald Harland sought permission for three solar panels on the rear roof of his Georgian house in Crown Street, Bury St Edmunds, but was turned down by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Sir Reginald, who is the president of the Bury St Edmunds Society, appealed against the council's decision but that appeal has been turned down by the Planning Inspectorate.


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He said he was stunned by the decision and said the panels, each of which would have measured 2m by 1m, would not have been visible from the surrounding streets.

“I think it (the Planning Inspectorate's decision) is absolutely astounding,” Sir Reginald said. “I am appalled. The panels would have been on the back of the house where nobody would have been able to see them. I don't think they would have been visible from any direction. They would have been on the roof above a little courtyard - our courtyard.”

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He said the proposal would have delivered environmental benefits by cutting carbon emissions.

But in his report, planning inspector Charles Hoile said he had to “pay special attention” to Sir Reginald's Grade II listed home and the wider area because it was in a conservation area.

Mr Hoile said although the panels would not be visible from Crown Street, the rear of Sir Reginald's home “undoubtedly possesses special visual interest in itself”.

“I also appreciate the argument that solar panels could be considered a necessary technology in present circumstances, and these would make a modest contribution to a 'zero carbon' future,” Mr Hoile said. “Nevertheless, I must conclude that the adverse effects on the fabric and visual interest of the listed building, and the failure to either preserve or enhance the character or appearance of this small part of an unusually fine conservation area, outweigh such environmental benefits.”

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