By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham City Council will spend more than £300,000 to stop pigeons nesting under the solar panels of its tenants’ homes.
The Labour-run authority wants Nottingham to be a carbon-neutral city by 2028. It is implementing more 40,000 energy-efficiency measures, including fitting solar panels in local homes.
But the solar panels are becoming a huge problem for local residents, with more than 300 complaints about birds nesting underneath them.
The cash-strapped authority will now spend £362,664 from its Housing Revenue Account to install ‘pigeon protection’ for the panels.
A council spokesman said: “There are currently over 3,000 properties across the city that have solar panel installations on their roof space.
“These installations are split between ones that are managed by Nottingham City Homes and ones that are managed by Nottingham City Council.
“A common issue that has come to light with these solar panels is birds nesting under the array.
“This has led to many issues including resident complaints, blocked gutters, damaged tiles, leaking roofs, unwanted noise nuisance and the build-up of guano (droppings) that is classed as hazardous to people’s health.”
The council says the build-up of droppings on solar panels has also made them less effective as it reduces the panels’ exposure to natural daylight.
The spokesman added: “Based on national research the efficiency of a panel will reduce by up to 30 per cent over their lifetime due to this.
“So far over 300 calls have been received and up to five emails a day from both the customer service team and tenants asking what our solution is to this problem.
“The plan is to carry out the works on ‘a needs must’ basis, due to the fact that not all panels are affected due to their location and the fact that we fit this protection to all new installations. “
The council says removing the panels is not an option as the cost to do this work would be in the same region as protection measures.
Removal would also have “a negative impact” on the council’s attempts to hit its carbon reduction target.
In May it was found that up to £40m of cash ringfenced by the council for housing tenants had been spent on other services . This money must now be paid back.
The Government says it is ‘minded’ to bring in commissioners to help run the local authority for the next two years.
The council has had to make a special request to spend money on providing pigeon protection for the solar panels.
It was agreed that this was a legitimate spend from Housing Revenue Account resources.
The approved programme will be funded by capital receipts – which includes income generated from the sale of land and buildings the council no longer requires.
The council agreed to the spending under a delegated decision, which took place outside of any public council meeting on August 5.
The authority will award the contract for the pigeon protection works to Nottingham City Homes (NCH), which the council has just brought in-house.
Cllr Kevin Clarke, opposition leader of the Nottingham Independent Group, said: “At the end of the day they need to stop pigeons resting under the solar panels.
“It is a necessity, and the work needs to be done. It has come at a bad time for the city council. They have known about it for a long time and the solar panels should have been redesigned.”