Monday, August 31, 2009

New blog poll: Should solar panels be permited on conservation area properties?

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.


Tressillian James said...

Sue - you're right, taking a poll here is not going to give you any meaningful data on what those who live in the conservation area would like. And surely, you must agree that those who own the houses (private residents, housing associatinos and the like), and those organisations that protect them (Brockley Society, English Heritage) ought to be the people consulted. There's not much point to the poll otherwise. You might as well go to up to climate camp and take a straw poll on the issue.

janet alty said...

My 14 panel array is on the gable end of a house in a prime position in a conservation area. The Officers refused planning permission : they had no choice, but I had it called in for a committee decision and it was accepted : 2 Cons, 2 Lab, and 2 LD for; 2 Con and 1 Independent against!! That's the way to go if you want a decision in your favour.

Richard Elliot said...

I don't have a problem in principle with solar panels in the Convservation Area. Most roofs are slate and solar panels are also black/grey. If installed sympathetically they could be ok.

Questions I have: How much heat / electricity do they generate compared to their carbon footprint? Are they that green? And are they cost effective?

I think there are a lot of things we could be doing first, as Sue points out insulation is an obvious one.

spiritsolar said...

It's a controversial issue, and something we've seen discussed a lot. Solar technology is getting more advanced and more efficient all the time, and the days of panels taking more energy to produce than they will create are over. There are options (although more expensive) for solar panels integrated into roof tiles- a more pleasingly asthetic option for conservation areas?