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Anger at Cumbrian council's £77 solar panel demand

Residents claim Eden District Council has broken national guidelines by threatening to tear down their solar panels.

David Hunt photo
David Hunt

At least six households had the panels installed on their roof with council permission, according to fitters Eco Environments. But they have since received letters demanding a £77.40 building regulations application.

Dr Jeremy Lucas, of Burrells, Appleby, was told his 12-panel array could be removed if he refused to pay.

He said: “This whole episode has caused my wife and I enormous stress. You would have thought Eden District Council would prefer to encourage renewable energy projects and put itself at the forefront of the green revolution.

“The council has even published a document making it clear that there is no requirement for a building regulations application.”

Before having the panels fitted, he added, he contacted the council to make sure no planning permission was needed. He said he was told a building regulations application could be waived under the government’s Competent Persons Scheme.

The scheme allows some minor building work to be carried out by registered firms, including Eco Environments, without council involvement.

David Hunt, a director of the company, said: “We have carried out hundreds of domestic installations of solar PV across the country and this is the first time we have encountered any problems concerning building regulations.

“We call on the council to see sense, stop living in the dark ages and fall into line with local authorities the length and breadth of Britain.”

He added that Eden’s approach could put people off installing green energy systems. Mr Hunt’s firm has launched a campaign calling for the fees to be waived, backed by MPs including Conservative Rory Stewart.

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Borders, said: “Something has clearly gone wrong in the correct regulating of planning laws in relation to solar panels.

“It is absolutely imperative that individuals, businesses and community groups are able to install PV with a minimum of fuss and regulation.”

Steve Huddart, director of Technical Services said: ‘The council is very supportive of the new technologies and we would wish to encourage people to adopt energy savings measures and techniques.

“However, it is equally important that these are done in a safe and secure manner and that the work does not prejudice the householder’s property nor that of their neighbours. We do recognise a number of the Competent Persons Schemes but some confusion does remain around what individual schemes actually cover.

“This subject has drawn a good deal of interest over the last couple of weeks and the more we look into the issue of building regulation approval the more we find that Eden is following an interpretation adopted by many authorities.”

Have your say

Sounds to me like a money making scheme on behalf of Eden District Council. They cannot make rules and then change them completely later. This stinks.

Posted by anon on 18 May 2011 at 13:34

Shame on Eden, lets hope they do the right thing.

Posted by Fred on 17 May 2011 at 20:57

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