Edinburgh Castle solar panel installation to go ahead after chiefs win battle

Scottish heritage chiefs have been told they can proceed with plans to install solar panels on the roof of Edinburgh Castle.

The City of Edinburgh Council says Historic Environment Scotland’s eco-friendly additions don’t need planning permission because they’ll be hidden behind the castle’s parapets.

Bosses at the national heritage agency sparked fury when they submitted the plan to install 126 south-facing photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Scottish National War Memorial.

The building, constructed in the 1920s to honour the dead of the First World War, sits dead centre in the Edinburgh Castle complex and has a flat roof contained within a high parapet.

A visual of the solar panels (in black) atop the Scottish National War Memorial

HES chiefs say it is an ideal location to install solar panels to help it meet its carbon reduction goals, as the parapet would obscure the panels and all cabling would be hidden in existing recesses of the building.

The castle is one of Scotland’s most carbon-intensive historical buildings, responsible for the equivalent of 348 UK homes’ worth of carbon emissions each year.

Even then, the 1,155 tonnes of carbon dioxide produced from powering the castle has fallen by a third since 2008.

But the heritage body’s latest plans were met with anger from members of the public who accused it of spoiling the castle’s look.

One member of the public said: “Edinburgh from the air is a magnificent sight and the proposed panels in themselves would detract from such a view and would set a precedent for further applications for panels if this proposal is approved.”

And the Cockburn Association, a civic trust campaigning to preserve Edinburgh’s historical heritage, called the plans “wholly lacking in detail”.

However David Givan, the council’s chief planning officer, said the plans were minimally invasive and did not need the local authority’s blessing to go ahead.

In a written decision notice, he told HES: “A series of supporting photographs show that the feature will not be visible from other elevated public vantage points due to a combination of its great elevation and the outer parapet.

“Given the various factors regarding the siting of the proposal the application is concluded not to be development.”

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