Epsom and Ewell Council drops legal action against couple with "visually intrusive" solar panels
The council has dropped legal action against a couple who refused to remove "visually intrusive" solar panels after they took down two of the eight panels.
Epsom and Ewell Council withdrew its complaint against Andrew and Jenny Minhinnick, of Hylands Close in Epsom, on September 7, at South East Surrey Magistrates’ Court.
They installed the £8,000 eco-friendly panels in October 2010, and were shocked when the council issued an enforcement order to remove them.
According to its guidance publicised by the council in December last year, homeowners do not need planning permission to install the panels, but they must be fitted to "minimise their effect on the external appearance of the building and on the amenity of the area", leaving residents who have spent thousands vulnerable should the council deem them inappropriate.
Maintaining the panels were installed within these guidelines, the Minhinnicks appealed the decision last August the council insisted the panels must come down.
But after removing two of the panels two weeks ago, the council withdrew the legal action.
Mr Minhinnick said he was glad the proceedings were over, branding them "a complete waste of everyone’s time and money".
The 46-year-old said: "The whole thing is a joke.
"It’s completely ridiculous and over-zealous and they are the only borough taking this type of action.
"The guidance is nonsensical and inconsistent and they are going on about visual impact, but you only have to go round the station development and the building opposite and ask how that has anything to do with the continuity of Epsom as a market town."
The UK has signed up to an EU pledge that commits it to ensuring that 20 per cent of all energy usage in the UK is from renewable sources by 2020, which is likely to see the number of solar panels installed rise.
A council spokeswoman said: "We have reached an agreement whereby two of the panels are to be removed and our costs are to be paid in full. This was felt to be a reasonable and satisfactory compromise.
"The council encourages the use of solar panels provided they are erected responsibly with regard to their visual impact.
"Those thinking of installing panels are advised to follow the guidance and to seek further advice if required from the council’s planning department."
To view the guidance visit www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk