A major row over solar panels is flaring up between homeowners and Epsom Council.

Two householders who have each paid up to £14,000 to install eco-friendly, energy-saving solar panels on their homes, have been ordered to remove them by the council because they go against the "character and visual quality" of the borough.

Homeowners do not need planning permission to install the panels, but they must be fitted to "minimise visual impact and impact to the amenity of the area" leaving residents who have spent thousands vulnerable should the council deem them inappropriate.

Andrew Minhinnick, 45, installed his £8,000 rooftop panels in October last year after calling in surveyors and following council guidelines and was shocked when Epsom and Ewell Council issued an enforcement order to remove them.

Mr Minhinnick is appealing the decision and has said he will not take his panels down.

He said: “I live in a close so there is no through traffic and there are only two houses that can see the front of my house.

“What planning seems to be saying is that they don’t want any solar panels on the front of houses in the Epsom borough.

“That seems to be at odds with Government strategy, what is going on with conservation and to be quite frank, common sense.”

“People are spending thousands of pounds on doing this and they are going to put them through financial hardship for something that is purely opinion based.”

John Sandison, of 1st Solar PV Ltd, has also been asked to remove some of his solar panels after installing 16 at his home in East Ewell at a cost of £14,000.

He said: “Councillors should get their act together and say unless it is blatantly ridiculous we should allow it as permitted development.

“They are being massively overcautious.”

Julie Morris, Liberal Democrat councillor for College ward added: “It seems to me to be wrong that if someone has followed all the guidelines that the council has the power retrospectively to take them down, but without knowing the individuals case it’s difficult to give a view."

A spokesperson for Epsom and Ewell Council said: “It is the council’s opinion that the installation of solar panels at these properties would go against the interests of preserving the character and visual quality of the borough, however an agreeable solution will be sought where possible.”

“Anyone who needs advice about installing solar panels, especially whether the panels would have an impact on visual amenity or not, would need to use the pre-application advice procedure.”

For more information on installing solar panels visit epsom-ewell.gov.uk

Have you had solar panelling problems? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@epsomguardian.co.uk