A GOVERNMENT inspector will decide whether a grade-II* listed Lake District church can install more than 20 solar panels in a bid to be more environmentally friendly and reduce heating costs.

St Anne’s Church in Ings has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate after the Lake District National Park Authority turned down plans from the church to install 28 solar panels due to concerns over its impact on the heritage of the site.

A decision notice issued by the LDNPA in November states: “The proposed solar panels would obscure the majority of the existing weathered local slate roof and replace this with the modern, functional, engineered and often reflective appearance of a solar panel array, its associated framing and installation fixings.

“This would represent a visual intrusion, disruption and contrast in the consistency of materials displayed in the building and surrounding local area resulting in harm to the significance of the Grade II* listed building, an adverse impact on the outstanding universal values of the English Lakes World Heritage Site and adverse impact on the character of the local area.”

In planning documents, the church said it considered the installation of solar panels due to the increased usage of the church and the increasing cost of energy. The church added the installation of the solar panels would make the energy demands of the building 86 per cent carbon zero.

A heritage statement submitted by the applicant admitted the proposals would have some impact on the view of the church from the south but added the plans would help the building meet the Church of England’s net zero targets and positively impact the financial security of the church.

However, a report from planning officers said the public benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the harm and impact identified.

In response to the plans, Historic England said they had ‘concerns’ over the proposals impact on the special architectural and historical character of the church.

A response from the body adds: “The proposal would adversely affect the special character of the listed building to a moderate degree. We therefore emphasise the high grade of the listed building and the need to balance both climate change measures and the conservation of heritage.”

The Planning Inspectorate is currently considering the appeal.