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Could Your Solar Panels Stop Development Next Door?

on Tuesday, 24 December 2019.

When deciding planning applications, adverse effects on neighbours is one of the factors the planning authority will take into account.

However, there are strict policies and if it is not a 'material' planning consideration, then the planning authority can ignore it.

If your neighbour proposes an extension that blocks light to your solar panels, is that a 'material' planning consideration? This was recently considered in the case of McLennan v Medway Council.

Mr McLennan had solar panels on his residential property. His next-door neighbour applied for planning permission for an extension. Mr McLennan objected on the basis that the proposed development would adversely affect his ability to generate electricity from his solar panels. The council considered the solar panels to be purely a private matter, not a material planning consideration, and granted planning permission.

Mr McLennan sought a judicial review to quash the planning permission, and the court agreed with him. The essential point was that both the local plan and the National Planning Policy Framework recognised the positive contribution that could be made to climate change by even small-scale renewable energy schemes. Under s.19(1A) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, mitigation of climate change was a legitimate planning consideration. That the solar panels were for the use of a single household, rather than being part of an industrial production of renewable energy, and contributed to the reduction in reliance on non-renewable energy in a very modest way, did not entitle the council to treat the matter as immaterial.

Obtaining planning permission can be fraught with difficulties. This case highlights just one of them and possibly opens the way for people to install solar panels not just to generate electricity but to possibly stop development next door.

If you would like further information on planning permissions, please contact David Marsden in our Commercial Property team on 01923 919 303, or complete the form below.


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