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Solar panel glare makes life a misery for Holsworthy man Robert Phipps

By NDJPhilippa  |  Posted: April 26, 2013

  • Robert Phipps at his home in Holsworthy

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SUNNY days are making life a misery for Robert Phipps – because of glare from a neighbour's solar panels.

The 51-year-old says his family has been severely affected since the panels were put on a nearby roof last year.

He says his health has suffered because of worry and his son now has blackout blinds in his room to block out the glare. 

Unemployed Mr Phipps said: "The problem is people don't need planning permission to put up solar panels – so there is no legislation to regulate where they go."

He has lodged a formal complaint with Torridge District Council about the lack of help he has been given over the problem and is writing to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP. 

He said: "We can't use our garden when the sun is out for about three hours. We installed a new 6ft fence to help block it out but it doesn't even reach it. My son has blackout blinds in his room so that when he gets back from school he can do his homework without the glare – but then he has to put his light on. 

"It has affected my health. In the last year I have lost two stone and I have had to quadruple my blood pressure tablets.

"I'm worried about retinal damage as well because we often get white blobs in our eyes when the sun is out."

But retired neighbour Trevor Chase, who put the 4kw solar panels on his roof, doesn't think there is a problem. 

He said: "We wanted to do our bit to save energy and help the planet. On a good day the panels power the lights and the cooker. 

"We can see other people's solar panels. On the house in front we can see sets of solar panels and there is glare from them when the sun catches them, but we don't mind. We just think 'live and let live'. It happens everywhere."

Torridge District Council said the panels were erected under permitted development rights so planning permission was not required.

Kate Little, joint head of strategic development and planning at TDC, said: "This is all part of the government's relaxation of planning regulations and indeed new regulations are due shortly which will mean that domestic extensions below a certain size will also no longer need planning consent."

The council did investigate whether the case could fall under light pollution, but said because it is reflected light that changes nothing could be done.

Penny Mills, the chairman of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "We believe solar panels should be installed on the roofs of agricultural, industrial buildings as well as homes where appropriate.

"However, the planning system should of course ensure there are no resulting problems affecting neighbouring properties, by making it a requirement for installers to provide evidence that glare from roof-mounted panels won't affect neighbours."

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  • Free2opine  |  April 29 2013, 4:07PM

    "On a good day the panels power the lights and the cooker"! Is that all. If that is the case you will never get your money back. To Mr. Phipps, if you have any space in the garden I suggest you plant a/some fast growing evergreen shrub/s in direct line between the annoying light and your place.. Make sure that it far enough away from the fence though so that your neighbour can't complain about it! Photinia "Red Robin" is quick growing and it is very colourful.

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  • Stork  |  April 26 2013, 6:41PM

    Glare is going to be a problem, especially when it comes to large solar farms which are now becoming more attractive to developers. Loads of dosh !

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