Borders roof solar panel dilemma debated

Wednesday January 4th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

The green light has been given for 15 solar panels on the roof of a Victorian villa in a Berwickshire town despite concerns it could create an unwanted precedent.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s Local Review Body were asked to reconsider a decision to refuse planning approval for the installation of photo voltaic solar panels on the south facing roof of Mansfield House, a six bedroom detached property in Coldstream’s High Street.

Council planning officers had refused the application on the grounds it would “adversely impact” the character of Coldstream Conservation Area, saying: “Furthermore, the proposal would set an undesirable precedent that could lead to incremental erosion of the character and appearance of the Coldstream Conservation Area.”

The application divided views of the review body, but the application was approved by a majority decision.

Mid-Berwickshire’s Councillor Donald Moffat said: “I can see why the officers have come to the decision they have and I have been racking my mind to think if there are any other houses in the High Street that have got the panels in the Conservation Area.

“I can see why they want to do this and I can see that it is very visible. There are other solutions here, you could have had them on the roof opposite the garage and on the back of the roof, where they wouldn’t be so visible.

“My gut feeling is to support it but I can see why the officers refused it.”

Selkirkshire’s Councillor Leagh Douglas said: “I’m very much in favour of green energy and using these type of roof panels but I don’t think that roof elevation from the High Street here is a good example.”

Councillor Neil Richards, Hawick and Denholm, said: “I think they have put them there for maximum heat gaining, so I rather support them having them there rather than spread out across the building. If we want green energy you have to accept that it might be problematic.”

Jedburgh and District’s Councillor Sandy Scott added: “We have been asked to go green all over the countryside and we have to come up with a policy otherwise it is going to run riot and we are going to have people applying for solar panels in all the Conservation Areas and are we going to grant them or not? We need a standard and until we have a standard I think we have to let this application through.”

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