Sidmouth council’s solar panel bid dashed

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 June 2011

Sidmouth Town Council office. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 1290-21-11AW

Sidmouth Town Council office. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 1290-21-11AW

Archant

CONSERVATION chiefs have pulled the plug on an environmentally friendly effort to cover Sidmouth Town Council’s listed headquarters in £15,000 worth of solar panels.

CONSERVATION chiefs have pulled the plug on an environmentally friendly effort to cover Sidmouth Town Council’s listed headquarters in £15,000 worth of solar panels.

Civic leaders hoped the move could see Woolcombe House become energy self-sufficient and even allow them to sell surplus power back to the National Grid.

They were told a photo voltaic system, with a minimum life span of a quarter of a century, would save £1,485 of town cash every year.

However, 16 panels would have had to span most of the front roof of the building.

Councillors this week ditched the bid after district planning bosses said it was ‘unlikely’ their conservation department would allow listed building consent for such a project.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Councillor Peter Sullivan, who had looked into the matter, “we are looking to become a greener council.

“It’s very unlikely East Devon (district council) would allow it on this building. The system would have to be placed on the main frontage of the building.”

Dave Johnson, of Ford and Sons, had told the council 16 panels across Woolcombe House’s two roofs- with 12 on the larger part and four on the smaller section- would generate a maximum output of 245 watts each, and would cumulatively give 3.9 kilo-watts generation power. He said ‘nominal earnings’ could be in the region of £1,485 a year but said: “The performance of a solar PV system is impossible to predict with certainty.”

The system would have cost £15,230.

Town councillors decided to take no further action over the bid.

Cllr Sullivan said he investigated utilising a photo voltaic system at Woolcombe House after members of the Sid Vale Energy Action Group (SVEAG) asked why no solar panels were being installed at the under-construction Stowford Community Centre.

He added: “We’re not having them at Stowford because of cost. Budgets had to be cut but everything is in place on that building, including planning permission, for solar panels to go there in the future.”


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