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.
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.
“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.”