Let there be light

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ANEW re­port from the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land (CPRE) and BRE Na­tional So­lar Cen­tre pro­vides an in­valu­able guide to ‘how so­lar pan­els on build­ings can look good, what­ever the struc­ture or sur­round­ing land­scape’.

‘The English coun­try­side can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to re­duc­ing green­house-gas emis­sions,’ says CPRE chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Spiers. ‘We need to find cleaner sources of en­ergy, but this should not be at the price of un­ac­cept­able harm to our coun­try­side.’

So­lar pan­els, mostly at­tached to non-listed build­ings—barns, green­houses, out­build­ings, etc—do not usu­ally re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion.

There is lit­tle guid­ance avail­able on how to do this ap­pro­pri­ately, but with 800,000 home so­lar-panel sys­tems in­stalled in the UK since 2010, and new tech­nolo­gies re­duc­ing the cost of so­lar pan­els de­spite Govern­ment sub­sidy cuts, the CPRE’S re­port and 10-point how-to guide is long awaited.

Among var­i­ous case stud­ies and de­sign tips, the charity ad­vo­cates blend­ing in at all costs, us­ing, for ex­am­ple, pan­els that match the size and shape of ex­ist­ing roof tiles, cov­er­ing an en­tire roof with pan­els, in­stead of a small por­tion, and the use of sym­me­try. Elec­tric­ity can also be gen­er­ated from a spe­cial type of so­lar glaz­ing for win­dows—ideal for green­houses.

Leonie Greene of the So­lar Trade As­so­ci­a­tion com­ments: ‘Given the great range of prod­ucts on of­fer today and some fab­u­lous ex­am­ples of best prac­tice, there is no ex­cuse for so­lar roofs that are any­thing less than stun­ning.’ Visit www.cpre.org.uk for in­for­ma­tion and to down­load the guides

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