Installation of solar panels on National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle

Posted on: December 1, 2021

Lacking in essential detail, we are concerned about this proposal for a substantial alteration to this iconic A-listed building in the heart of the Castle and the city.

Address: Edinburgh Castle, 362 Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

Proposal: Proposed installation of solar panels on the Scottish National War Memorial

Reference No: 21/05837/LBC

Closing date for comments: Fri 03 Dec 2021

Determination date: Fri 24 Dec 2021

Result: Pending

Cockburn Response

The Cockburn Association would wish to articulate its concerns for this proposal, which would be a significant intervention on one of most iconic buildings within one of the most important assemblages of buildings in the country.

We find the application wholly lacking in detail and content for such a substantial alteration to a Category A-listed building.  There are unevidenced statements regarding the proposals, such as that made in the Design Statement that “the proposed location for the photovoltaic panels was determined based on a comprehensive options appraisal” but nowhere in the application is this assessment shared or the various options outlined.  Similarly, no information about other technologies or approaches have been offered.

Furthermore, we note that the Statement acknowledges that “…. the proposed works represent a substantial intervention to the Scottish National War Memorial, and the castle as a whole.”  Against this impact, it suggests that “there would be significant benefits as a result of this.”  Nowhere in the document are these benefits articulated.

CEC Listed Building Guidance on the installation of renewable energy technologies states that it should be carefully sited in order to protect the architectural integrity of the listed building. Whilst we acknowledge the hidden characteristics of the panel for a pedestrian’s perspective, the guidance makes it clear that in the New Town Conservation Area and World Heritage Site, aerial views will also be considered.  We do not feel that, overall, this test has been met.

We therefore believe that the proposals are inconsistent with Development Plan policies ENV1 World Heritage Site and Policy Env4 Listed Buildings – Alterations and Extensions as the proposals are not adequately justified against a range of alternatives (including management options) and would result in unnecessary visual interventions leading to the diminution of its significance and interest.

We are supportive of measures to improve Edinburgh Castle’s carbon management, but these can only be acceptable if they have no impact on its significance and architectural integrity.  That is not the case here.