I've set up a poll to gauge readers' views on whether solar panels should be permitted on conservation area properties. Please do vote - you can find it in the right-hand column of the blog.
To be absolutely clear, I'm not claiming any particular scientific validity for the poll, self-selecting as readers of this blog inevitably will be, and it's not in any way an official council consultation, it's just a straw poll.
The poll has come about as a result of an ongoing discussion on an earlier post with a blog reader. My own view is that action to reduce carbon emissions and prevent climate change is a bigger priority than preserving the aesthetic qualities of a conservation area, but that most of the time the two need not be incompatible anyway. I would generally support solar panels on roofs in conservation areas, as long as they were positioned and designed as unobtrusively as possible, and the owners had already taken all reasonable measures to insulate and improve the energy efficiency of the property. ie I'm not into solar panels purely as fashion statements - insulation, an energy efficient boiler etc come first. That said, I don't see preserving the character of the conservation area and doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprints as mutually exclusive, and think St Peter's Church on Wickham Road is a good example of how this can be done sensitively.
Anyway, I would be interested to know what my readers think, so please do participate in the poll, which will run until 20th September.