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Solar panels fitted by Islington Council criticised

PUBLISHED: 12:15 03 March 2012 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 March 2012

Dr Brian Potter

Dr Brian Potter

Dieter Perry

Solar panels fitted to homes have been criticised for potentially harming property values and saving residents less than 1p a year on their electricity.

Last year, the council fitted 20 panels on buildings in the Elthorne Estate, off Elthorne Road, Archway, to help generate power for communal areas.

The scheme is also designed to reduce bills by selling the electricity generated back to the national grid, known as a feed-in tariff. However external contractors have stumped up the cash for the panels on the condition that they keep the lion’s share of the money the national grid pay for the electricity.

The council refused to reveal the exact details of the deal, but figures shown to the Gazette suggests it saves around £140 per panel per year. With 20 panels fitted under this deal, this means a saving of £2,800, less than 1p a year for each of the 30,000 tenants and leaseholders.

Many residents are angry that their property value is potentially being compromised.

Brian Potter, chairman of Islington Leaseholder Associations, said: “I have had quite a few calls about this, people are very worried.

“They are being misled. There is not going to be an appreciable reduction in fuel bills for the average tenant or leaseholder. All the scheme is doing is making the contractors a load of money.

“Of course people are scared their property value will go down, because their roofs have basically been sold to a contractor for 25 years. It’s crazy.

“There was no consultation on this either – the council has done it because it’s green and sounds good and all the rest of it. But we are building a lot of problems in the future. I just hope they don’t extend the scheme all over the borough.”

Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We are on the side of residents, many of whom are finding record fuel prices are forcing them into fuel poverty.

“These installations help reduce communal heating and lighting bills, putting money back in residents pockets for years to come. Our solar schemes have not cost taxpayers a penny. They are zero risk because contractors pay all maintenance costs and have indemnified the council against any claims.”

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