R (on the application of McLennan) v. Medway Council
Jurisdiction: United Kingdom
Side A: R (McLennan) (Individual)
Side B: Medway Council (Government)
Core objectives: Whether planning board erred in failing to consider that proposed development would infringe on neighbor's use of solar panels.
SummaryA British court ruled that a local planning board had erred in granting a development permit without considering whether the proposed project would affect the neighbor's ability to generate electricity from his solar panels.
In October 2017, the claimant received permission to install solar panels on the south-facing wall of his residential property in Rochester, Kent. In September 2018, the claimant's next-door neighbor, whose detached residence lies immediately to the south of the claimant's house, applied to the Medway Council for planning permission for the construction of a dormer. The claimant objected on the ground that the proposed development would block the sun, and adversely affect his ability to generate electricity from his solar panels. The planning board granted permission in December 2018.
After the claimant challenged the permit, the Court concluded that the planning board incorrectly decided that the claimant's concerns about the development's effect on his solar system were immaterial. The Court reasoned that both the Medway Local Plan and the British National Planning Policy Framework recognize the positive contribution of even small-scale renewable energy schemes to addressing climate change. The Court further held that the planning board erred in deciding that the claimant's objection was purely a matter of private interest -- as opposed to public interest -- given the role of solar energy in reducing greenhouse gases. The Court accordingly quashed the permit.