A Government Minister has pledged to take up a campaign being led by one of the UK’s fastest growing renewable energy companies.
Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, has vowed to discuss the growing chaos surrounding the installation of solar panels with the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Barker’s intervention follows lobbying by Eco Environments’ director David Hunt, supported by Shadow Energy Ministers Huw Irranca-Davies and Luciana Berger.
The campaign was triggered after a number of local councils, including Eden District Council and West Lancashire Council, told homeowners they needed to seek permission before having solar panels installed.
This is despite Government guidance that planning permission is not required unless someone lives in a listed building or conservation area and Building Regulations are not needed as long as the homeowner uses a contractor under the Government’s Competent Person Scheme.
David Hunt, whose company has six offices across the UK, said: “We are delighted that both a Government Minister and two Shadow Ministers have taken up our campaign which seeks to bring an end to attempts by councils to make life difficult for homeowners trying to embrace renewable energy solutions.
“Since we launched our campaign a few weeks ago we have heard about horror stories across the UK which is causing serious damage to the Government’s stated agenda of encouraging people to look seriously at renewable energy options for their homes.
“This will continue to be the case as long as councils are putting road-blocks in the way by telling homeowners they need planning permission, Building Regulations and Certificates of Lawfulness and charging them for the pleasure.
“We look forward to hearing the response from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
“The Government should publish a simple, definitive guide for councils to follow which make it clear that there is no room for local authorities to make up their own rules and regulations. Perhaps then we will finally see a 100 per cent consistent approach towards renewable energy schemes across the country.”
Energy Minister Greg Barker said in a letter to his two Labour Shadow Ministers: “I agree it is important that local councils are fully aware of the planning rules relating to solar panels. I am happy to raise this matter with my colleagues at the DCLG to explore options for making sure these rules are clearly understood by councils and continue to work with them on removing barriers to the take up of microgeneration technologies.”
Mr Irranca-Davies said: “I urge the Government to work with industry to cut out any unnecessary barriers and confusion over planning and building regulations.”