A MAN told to take down a solar panel after 15 years is being supported in his fight to keep it by Bridport Town Councillors.

Grahame Dobson from Magdalen Lane has been told by West Dorset District Council to take the solar panel down because it does not have planning permission.

He is appealing that edict and at Monday's town council planning committee meeting councillors agreed to write a letter to the planning inspector supporting his appeal.

Coun Dave Rickard made an impassioned plea on his behalf.

He said Mr Dobson moved into the house in 1992 and chose it partly because of the solar panel.

This is a man, said Coun Rickard, so committed to renewable energy he is taking an Msc at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Coun Rickard said the solar panel was on the rendered south facing gable end of the house and no-one had objected to it in all the years it had been there.

He said: "We are all being asked to take note of the 2006 Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act encouraging councils to do everything they can to encourage renewable energy.

"We should be actively encouraging this as should the district council and as should the county council.

"This is something that is going to come up more and more."

Planning committee chairman Coun Ros Kayes said she thought it was hard to argue that the solar panel was visually intrusive when the evidence was it had been there for many years and nobody either noticed or objected to it.

Councillors agreed that in the light of the 2006 legislation the district council should look again at its planning policy.

Coun Kayes added: "I think the district council quite clearly needs to think again about this legislation.

"The implication is that there are to be no solar panels on listed buildings. That rules out most of Bridport from becoming energy efficient because of this."

Coun Charles Wild said clearly people with listed buildings could not do exactly what they wanted but the planners had been slow in adjusting to the new legislation.

The council could write to the inspector, he said, saying that on this occasion the renewable energy legislation might not have been fully taken into consideration.

Councillors agreed to write a letter to the planning inspector and another one to the district council asking for a meeting with officers asking about their approach to renewable energy sources for listed buildings.