At the recent Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions (BREAZE) group, two representatives of the Ballarat City council (Marshall Sullivan and Lisa Gervasoni) gave a presentation about photovoltaic (PV) solar cells in heritage listed areas.
They outlined that a planning permit is required for all solar PV cell or solar hot water system additions (although it is not clear whether systems not visible at all from the road need a permit, council said they will clarify in future). They said that if the panels to be installed were not highly visible, there is a good chance applications would be successful, and be “fast tracked” through in 15 business days. However, normal applications would like take 8-12 weeks.
How would the heritage streetscape impact of street-facing solar cells be weighed against their positive contribution to averting a global climate crisis? The council representatives would not be drawn on specifics, but said factors such as using low-profile panels, and matching colours if possible, would improve the chances of an application. Several BREAZE members called for bypassing the permit process altogether since panels are not permanent additions to homes, but Mr Sullivan confirmed that under current State Govt policy, this would not be possible. Ballarat Council and the State Govt may re-evaluate these laws in future.
Comments welcome on this interesting issue.