It’s just been ruled that solar panels on the roof of a modern wing of a Grade II farmhouse would damage its setting. It’s unclear if the decision involved English Heritage’s assessment methodology or if the Inspector was guided by previous decisions. Neither was mentioned. There’s a reason for wondering: disallowing solar panels may look reasonable relative to other cases involving solar panels but it looks pretty puzzling when viewed against the fact that massive wind turbines often ARE allowed – see here and here and here for instance. Why are those considered OK yet solar panels aren’t?
One possible explanation was hinted at by the Inspector. It was put to him that the panels should be allowed as they contributed towards fulfilling the Government’s target of renewable energy production by 2020 but he ruled that the power output was “likely to be limited, and consequently not of such a benefit that would outweigh the harm”.
The implication is not good. Does it mean that if the panels had generated enough electricity they would have been allowed? Worse, does it imply that if you want planning permission for a wind turbine then the bigger it is the more likely it will be given the go-ahead? Cynics who reckon that’s exactly what the government wants and that heritage is going to suffer commensurately can kiss their knighthoods goodbye.