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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Do you consider that there is a way in which the panels could be fitted otherwise so as to minimise the visual impact on the immediate area and / or thier building please?
The roof faces our property so there is no way other than to use the whole space to fit the panels.We will sit in our lounge directly looking at them.It will have a major effect on selling the property.
Sorry for the delay in reverting to you.
The difficult starting point you have is that solar panel installations (renewable energy being something the government is very ken to encourage) is something known as permitted development - i.e. development that can be undetaken without the need for planning permission.
However it is worth checking to see if permitted developement rights have been removed from the neighbours property - sometimes with newer properties permitted development rights can be removed under the planning permission under which the property was built and if this is the case they would need to seek a planning application for the panels.
If PD rights have not been removed which is pronbably the more likely scenario, there are a number of conditions to panels being fitted under PD rights. Panels should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area and should be removed once no longer needed for microgeneration panels should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable. Based on what you say these conditions probably do not assist greatly as the first condition does not prevent them being cited on the roof, it merely provides that they should be cited in a manner which minimises visual impact.
There are some further conditions which potentially could assist but again probably will not which are that the panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should not project more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface.
There are some further conditions if the side of the building on which they wish to install fronts a highway or is in a conservation area or is a listed building but unless you tell me otherwise I will conclude these do not apply here.
Turning to law outside of the planning arena in principle if the panels were to cause a nuisance - e.g reflecting light into your home then you could consider bring a claim of statutory or common law nuisance against the neighbours. Essentially the law provides that you have a claim based on the unreasonable activities on his neighbour's property if you can point to the same impacting on your enjoyment of your property. This may not be straightforward as the council or court (depending on to whom you complained to would be mindful of the environmental benefits of the panels and so other remedies are likely to be considered such as screening to take the panels down but I mention the above for the sake of completeness.
Unfortunately subject as above there is no obvious basis on which to prevent the erection of the panels absolutely however some of the above appropaches may be worth exploring
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Apologies for the delay.
Apologies for the delay.Its looks like the law is not in our favour however I did see a newspaper article one day that stated a neighbour objected to panels on a Bungalow being fitted as the height of the building and the subsequent panels would be extremely visible and the council agree.
It is possible. As above permitted development rights require the owner to be ensure that the installation is minimised.
Since the local authority are the competant authority for deciding planning matters (notwithstanding appeals to the Planning Inspectorate) if they decided that the installation is not minimising impact on local amenity then the owner cannot proceed because unless he appeals their decision he is in breach of permitted development rights.
Apologies for the delay in replying.Its looks like the law is not on our side however I did read an article once about a person that complained about its neighbour putting solar panels on a bungalow and because of the roofs height the panels would be a constant eyesore and inconvenience.The council agreed and the panels had to be taken down.Is there an angle Here? Finally if will plant fast growing conifers are there any height restrictions.These would act as a screen.
Thanks for your post I am not sure if you say my above posts so just in case I will repost them.
Evergreen shrubs of more than one placed together can fall foul of the Anti Social Behaviour Act which allows a council to limit their height to 2m. This is as opposed to "traditional trees" which have no such restriction
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Thanks one final question what do you classify evergreen scrubs as against traditional trees.
One final question please can you explain what Evergreen Shrubs are as against traditional trees.
Certainly. The precise definition is given in s66 Anti Social Behaviour Act which provides that the council have powers in relation to a barrier to light or access which is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens. And it goes on to say evergreen in this context means an evergreen tree or shrub or a semi-evergreen tree or shrub
Accordingly the common things that are caught are plants like leylandii but of course there are huge range of evergreen trees and shrubs which can be potentially caught by the Act. Your knowledge of gardening is almost certain to be better than mine but if in any doubt either wikipedia or your local nursery can confirm the status of any proposed shrub or tree you are considering before you commit.
Are you happy with the information I have provided to you above or is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?