Company lambasts Harrogate Borough Council over its plans on solar power

SOLAR PROTEST: Managing director of Clean Energy (Yorkshire) Spencer Cassidy has called on Harrogate Council to look at all the options.
SOLAR PROTEST: Managing director of Clean Energy (Yorkshire) Spencer Cassidy has called on Harrogate Council to look at all the options.
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A renewable energy firm has protested over a council’s proposal for restrictions on solar panels on buildings surrounding a local beauty spot.

The firm says the Conservative-controlled Harrogate Borough Council is even going against the planning policies of its own Government.

Renewable energy installer Clean Energy (Yorkshire) says the council plans to ban solar panels from being fitted to homes fronting the Stray, a large parkland close to the town centre.

The council says it is trying to help preserve the area’s character using planning controls.

The company says almost 1,000 properties will be affected in conservation areas including West Park, York Place and Park Parade.

The firm has accused the council of “robbing” homeowners of the right to solar powered renewable energy.

Managing director Spencer Cassidy said: “In addition to conventional solar panels, we now have solar tiles and thin film panels. These are much thinner and sit flush to the roof.

“Two years ago, we installed solar tiles at council-owned toilets in Knaresborough, which are sited in a conservation area. And last month we completed a project at a Knaresborough business where we fitted 175 thin-film panels.

“Before adopting this one-size-fits-all-approach, Harrogate Borough Council needs to look at the options available.

“David Cameron said he wanted his Government to be the greenest ever, yet here we have a Conservative-controlled council looking to deny almost 1,000 households the chance to install a solar energy system should they wish to do so.

“My fear is if this is sanctioned it could well be adopted in every conservation area in the district. Households should be actively encouraged to look at green energy solutions, not actively discouraged.

“Whilst they are at it, why not ban satellite dishes which, in my opinion, are far more obtrusive.”

A report is due to be presented to the Cabinet for Planning, Transport and Economic Development meeting today.

A council spokeswoman said: “This is not about squashing e-technology it is about taking it under control in an important conservation area.”