But out of sight is not out of mind as far as Andrew and Claire Ashley’s local council is concerned.
The couple have been ordered to rip down the £10,000 panels from the £750,000 grade II-listed property – despite insisting that they are only visible from the bottom of one neighbour’s garden.
The panels will have ‘a significant visual impact which will diminish the special interest of the building, including its character and setting’, the council said in a report.
‘The energy-saving benefits that may be derived are not considered to outweigh the harm that would be caused.’
In addition, allowing them to remain would set a precedent which ‘could have far-reaching consequences for Wiltshire’s historic environment’.
Last night, Mr Ashley, 47, a company director, said: ‘Our electricity bill has halved already – and the Government is encouraging people to do what we have done. If we have to pull them down we’ll be devastated.’
Mrs Ashley, 39, added: ‘A house on the other side of the village green where the building is not listed has solar panels on its roof and they are completely visible from the front. It doesn’t make sense.’
The couple live in a late 18th-century home in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, with their children Hugh, eight, and Annabel, 11. The panels were installed in February but the couple applied for planning permission retrospectively.
Permission to keep all 18 was refused by Wiltshire council, as was a revised application to retain 15.
Out of sight? : This picture shows the solar panels on the rear roof of the Ashley family homeNeighbours Juliette and Jonathan Martin objected in a letter to the council. But yesterday councillor Chris Humphries said: ‘I think the committee was splitting hairs.’
However, Hugh Bland, chairman of Aldbourne Parish Council’s planning committee, said: ‘They are on a listed building. They are highly visible from a neighbouring property and would be setting a precedent.’
Mr and Mrs Ashley are now considering whether to appeal.