THE Solar Trade Association of Scotland held its annual conference last week in Edinburgh.

At it, Newton Property Management presented a reality check on the situation regarding installation of solar (PV) systems on to properties, including blocks of flats.

The association is a diverse group of businesses that encompass manufacturers, suppliers, installers and energy consultants – and if we are going to swiftly move the country to being carbon neutral and neutralise the energy consumed by some of our many blocks of flats, we face a real problem unless we start thinking radically about the laws governing what can be done with these properties.

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And to who, or what percentage of the ownership will agree to installing all kinds of renewable power generation.

The potential for Scotland is huge.

Tenements could generate electricity – yes even on a dull day! Solar panels, combined with battery storage could form a Virtual Power Plant, allowing energy to be harvested and stored on a local level, street by street and released into the local grid where it is needed.

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Thomas McMillan, vice chair of the Solar Trade Association Scotland has noted: “The Tenements (Scotland) Act is one such area which the STA would like the Scottish government to look at, so that the rollout of solar is not unnecessarily hindered by outdated legislation.”

Take a standard tenement. Currently, if you want to add something that wasn’t there before, you must get a unanimous decision from all eight owners. Otherwise you’re looking at a convoluted legal process that involves lands tribunals or changes to title deeds. The very thought is enough to put most people off even trying.

Scotland prides itself in being a progressive country, but if we are going to get serious about climate change we need to be more confident in our ability to take democratic decisions concerning the wellbeing of our citizens and our planet.

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Protecting the minority of owners in a block of flats against reckless or unnecessary expense is one thing; however this has to be balanced against the benefits of renewable power generation, to this generation and the next. No more big, dirty power stations ? Yes we can achieve that – but only we work together.

On May 2019 14 the Climate Secretary said: “There is a global climate emergency. The evidence is irrefutable. The science is clear. And people …. expect action.”

We have written to the Scottish Government to let them know what action we think they need to take.

Now it’s over to them.

Derek MacDonald is joint Managing Director of Newton Property Management.

For more information please visit www.newtonproperty.co.uk

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The Herald’s Climate for Change initiative supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government with key organisations and campaign partners. Throughout the year we will provide a forum in The Herald newspaper, online at herald.scotland.com and in Business HQmagazine, covering news and significant developments in this increasingly crucial area.

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