Legal battle launched over solar panels on roof of 18th Century church

Residents say no one is opposed to the plans
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)


A listed church has launched a legal battle against national park over installing solar panels on its roof.

Wardens want to make St Anne's Church more energy efficient by installing 28 solar panels on its slate roof. However, planning chiefs at the Lake District National Park have refused permission for the 280-year-old grade II-listed building.

They say it would hide the slate roof of the Georgian church in the village of Ings near Kendal, SWNS reports. In its ruling, the authority said the plans "would represent a visual intrusion, disruption and contrast in the consistency of materials displayed in the building."

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It ruled it would be have an "adverse impact on the outstanding universal values of the English Lakes World Heritage Site and the character of the local area".

A church judge from the Diocese of Carlisle had blessed the plans, giving the Church of England backing to an appeal by the wardens.

Aerial image of St Anne's Church in Ings, Cumbria
Aerial image of St Anne's Church in Ings, Cumbria -Credit:SWNS

Church warden John Hiley, 75, said: "We are all absolutely on the same page - so much happens in the church. The view of the south-facing roof is extremely restricted and you can hardly see it unless you are in front of the church.

"But in the majority of the village, you can't see it anyway. There's three residents who can see the roof and they are all shocked at the national park's decision."

The church dates back to 1743 and has a roof made of "weathered local slate" and is of "high historic significance". Conservation groups such as the Georgian Group and Historic England have supported by the decision.

Locals in the village have supported the plans and say it's much-needed as a sustainable energy source. Having lived near the church for 15 years, Parish councillor Paul Riley says no one has any objections.

The 67-year-old said: "The daft thing is, is that we want sustainability and we want to keep it as a church and need to help it pay its way, so nobody has any objections. I'm sure they will look as nice as possible. There's only a few people who could see them, that's including me, and none of us are complaining about it whatsoever.

"It's because it's a historical building and a listed building but to us, there's no logical reason why you couldn't do it."

Everley Buckley has lived in the village all of his life and is "totally in favour" of the panels, saying they "wouldn't be seen from anywhere." The 75-year-old said: "I'm totally in favour of them - they are not visible apart from three little houses so they aren't even visible from the main road.

"They wouldn't been seen from anywhere really. A lot of cathedrals in the country have solar panels on them now - and they will be much more visible than what these will be.

"It's a very well looked after church and the community is very thriving community and nearly everyone is in support of doing this."

Barrister James Fryer-Spedding from the Church’s Consistory Court, has given his blessing to the scheme. He said the panels would cause "moderate but not significant harm" as the building is of special architectural and historic interest.

The Judge also took into account the church's aims to reduce its carbon footprint. He said: “My assessment is that the moderate harm that will result to the significance of the Church from the implementation of the proposals is outweighed by the benefits of installing a solar panel system.”

Fryer-Spedding gave the Consistory Court's go-ahead for the scheme, given that planning consent is ultimately granted.