Homeowner’s fury after neighbour installs ‘blinding’ solar panels that glare like a ‘tanning salon’

April 25, 2013 | by | 13 Comments

A homeowner who installed solar panels on his roof has sparked fury with his neighbour – who says they give off such a glare his family are permanently blinded by the light.

The feud began when environmentally-conscious Trevor Chase, 81, fitted the eco tiles on top of his bungalow.

But next door neighbour Robert Phipps, 51, says his three-bed detached home is now lit up like a “tanning salon” for several hours a day.

Robert Phipps at his house in Devon where his neighbours' solar panels reflect sunlight straight into his house

Robert Phipps at his house in Devon where his neighbours’ solar panels reflect sunlight straight into his house

He says the combination of a slope and the angle of Mr Chase’s roof means the light is reflected over his garden and straight at his property.

Mr Phipps, in Torridge, Devon, says his family have to retreat behind thick curtains and blackout blinds and fear the dazzle could permanently damage their eyes.

He has installed a large fence to try and block the glare which he says hasn’t worked – meaning they can’t go into the garden when the sun is shining.

He has complained to the local council that the light pollution is making his life a misery – but says officials said nothing could be done.

Mr Phipps said: “If you go into the garden there’s this huge wall of light pointing straight at you from 12 metres away – It’s worse than looking directly at the sun.

The view from the bedroom window of Robert's house in the afternoon when the sun reflects from his neighbour's solar panels

The view from the bedroom window of Robert’s house in the afternoon when the sun reflects from his neighbour’s solar panels

“If you look at it and turn away you’ll have blobs in front of your eyes for ten minutes. I’m really worried it’s causing us retinal damage.

“In March it starts at 2pm and in the summer its more like 4pm and it last for over three hours – just when you want to be out in the garden enjoying life.

“It’s not much better inside. The glare goes from one end of the living room to the other and lights up the opposite wall and ceiling.

“We just have to close the curtains and the blinds and switch the lights on. My son has blackout blinds in his room just so he can escape the glare to do his homework.

“The conservatory is totally unusable as well. It’s almost like living beside a giant tanning salon.

“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.”

The sixteen 4kw slabs are carefully positioned to soak up the sun’s rays and provide enough energy for Mr Chase’s lights and cooker.

But Mr Phipps, a Land Rover worker, who is unable to work because of long-term health issues, plans to take his fight to Whitehall and is writing to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP.

He added: “I’ve been round to see Mr Chase and invited him over to see the reflection for himself but he wouldn’t come. He thinks we’re whinging.

“To be honest, my problem is not so much with Mr Chase, I’ve spoken to him five times in five years and I can tolerate the man.

“My problem is with the authorities – they need to do something about this.”

But Mr Chase yesterday insisted his environmentally panels are not 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 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.”

Penny Mills, 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.”

Category: News

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just get your self some mirror windows and send the bill to your neighbour. Or a hefty brick would solve your health problems or a nice spray of blacki paint. Its war your eyesight or his electricity bill I know which IO would chose.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We had a similar experience. The most frustrating part is that the reality of glare is so much stronger than a photo, and no one will come see the actual glare to even try to get an understanding from your viewpoint. It is perceived that if you complaint, then you must not be a proponent of solar energy….which is furthest from the truth. You are correct your local county should get involved with installations to the benefit of all. I am sure the last thing your neighbor intended to do was create this problem. There is now a computer program that can help estimate where the glare may hit, thus a correction can be made in the design process. Go to sandia.gov and type in SGHAT in the search box. It is the Solar Glare Hazard Anaylisis Tool which was developed after an airport had installed panels, later to find the blinding glare aiming right at the controllers. This is not a new topic, but this is a new program. It is a free program using google maps. Show it to your county, it is the best solution to make solar a win win for everybody.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I really do sympathise with you. This problem is awful and has to be experienced to be believed. It makes people ill, devalues your home and makes it difficult to sell. The glare is classed as a nuisance. Go and speak to a solicitor specialising in private nuisance law. Private nuisance law protects the rights of an occupier in respect of unreasonable interference with the enjoyment or use of his land. The parties to an action in private nuisance are usually neighbours and the courts undertake a balancing exercise between the competing rights of land owner to use his land as he chooses and the right of the neighbour not to have his use or enjoyment of land interfered with. Also, check with your house insurance provider to see if you are covered for the legal fees. I do hope this helps.

  4. Anonymous says:

    well I am the said man in the article,and to date now have letters from Eric Pickles office MPS Bob neil ,nick Boles and planning for theUK Sam Pigdon and many more infact the replies are identical apart from their signatures on the bottom? I now know of many others who are suffering from county Durham to Cornwall and they have all had the same responce. this is a national disgrace and all concerned should hold they heads in disgrace,goverment planners keep going on about artical 4 direction laws ,but before these can work you first need someone to apply for planning, but under permitted planning regs you dont need to, so no one can object? if you can work that one out answers please on a post card?

  5. Anonymous says:

    We are dealing with this now. The attorney we spoke to here in Az said suck it up and move on.we cannot use our patio and we deal with this blinding intense glare in our dining area and family room.
    We had an entertainment wall but specifically for our tv, cant use it becausebof the glare.
    Our HOA Approved the tilt panel lay out right off our patio.
    I thnk the solar law should reqire solar installs be run by a neighbor that will be affected by the panels. This is wrong. We have been informed by real rstate agents this will affect the sale of our home. We are the only ones in the development with tilt panel in sight view. Ty.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr Phipps here again and well Ive now heard of two more cases locally and they to have got no where,so wrote to No 10 and my letters have once again been diverted to department of communities and local government along with papers of a93 year old in Barnstable,who says yes I could take this to court but at the end of the day the planners and government have got it wrong and must put it right, also the papers of a couple in county durham who have also been fighting this for over 2 years,I dont hold out much hope but you would think that after all the nagging and complaining someone in government would hold their hands up and say yes we got this one wrong?I will post an up date if I ever get one.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes the man in the article again once again fobbed of by Boles and planningthey dont want to know so contacted another family in county durham who have the same problem and told them to check their home insurance , the insurance is reluctant to take the case because EH failed to act? now the department for communities and local government is refusing to correspond on the topic too they also want proof its not natural light.

    • Anonymous says:

      mr phipps again well had a phone call from planning “Pickles office”in communties and local,and you guessed it they don’t want to know about the problem , and there is no plans to change the regulations on permitted planning now or any time in the future,and now I hear there are problems in Seaford,and brighton & Hove, and Kent, also check out Martin Lewis Money advice web site it’s now affecting house sales because you have to declare the problem of glare, some hope of me moving any time soon

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well hello again this farce has now been going on for three years and no sign of it ending any time soon so to set the record straight Ive spent 900 on a new fence 400 and blinds so this man can have his f***ing solar panels, the glare lasts from march to september for up to 3 and a half hours a day, and now theres glare problems in Pyworthy, Boyton ,North tamerton, barnstable, and glare reflecting no to the main A 39 atlantic road north of kilkhampton, would anyone else like to add to the list?

  9. Anonymous says:

    We have this problem with glare in County Durham,the man who lives below us put a full roof of solar panels on and because of the angle we get the glare for two hours each day we cannot go near the window or we are blinded,our grandchildren have to stay at the back of the house.The neighbour says he has done nothing wrong and suggested we put blinds up , in the planning portal it says to speak to any neigbours first who it could affect which he did not do.E H are not interested or planning ,local councils and MP.They just want the problem to go away.

  10. Anonymous says:

    well yes take a look at carmarthen journal and see the nightmare for your self once again roads and homes destroyed with no consideration for residents wake up Pickles, boles, and snapps pull your heads from where the sun never shines we want our homes back?

  11. Anonymous says:

    And now the government want to make the south west the center for solar panels and energy production we already produce 1/5 th of the green energy for the uk with so called green power, take your self to the cliffs at millook near widemouth bay and look back over Bude you will see approx 25 turbines with more to come who in their right mind will visit Cornwall to view that or for that matter set up home here when they dont know if they could have a turbine or solar farm dumped in their back yard

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