ALL new homes that are ‘in any way’ south-facing should be fitted with solar panels, it has been suggested.

Liberal Democrat county councillor Nigel Quinton made the suggestion at a meeting of the public health and prevention cabinet panel on Thursday (November 14).

He believes there’s a need to move away from traditional carbon-based fuels for heating – which are responsible for carbon dioxide emissions.

And he wants Hertfordshire to lead the way in pushing for solar panels on new homes.

Following the meeting, Cllr Quinton said: “A large part of the emissions in the country come from heating homes using gas. But we can wipe that by using various renewable forms of electricity.

“I can’t see a good reason not to be putting far more solar panels on our new-build developments.

“There ought to be pressure on developers to include these in their new programmes of house building. It’s such an obvious win.”

Cllr Quinton stops short of calling for solar panels to be mandatory on new-build properties. And he accepts they may not be possible on all designs

But he says he would like the county council to look at ways it could encourage district and borough councils, in their role as planning authorities, to take a stance.

He accepts there is a cost to installing the panels, but he says the savings in the longer term should be taken into account.

“There are bigger upfront costs involved, but ultimately over the life of a property it should be more profitable,” he said. “There has to be a way of making this work.

“I think the county council ought to be looking at what they can do, without driving developers away.”

Meanwhile, he says the county council should also be looking to increase the number of solar panels on schools, for which it does have planning authority.

Cllr Quinton raised the use of solar panels on Thursday during a debate on the ‘sustainable Hertfordshire strategy’.

The strategy will focus on a number of environmental issues, such as climate change, biodiversity and the council’s use of resources.

But it will also focus on sustainability through social issues like education, health care and building a thriving economy.

And as well as acknowledging that the county council is well placed to reduce its own environmental impact, it will look at ways to support and inspire residents, businesses and others across the county to do the same.

At the meeting on Thursday, the need to use water more carefully was also highlighted as an issue.

Director of environment and infrastructure, Mark Kemp, said that while Hertfordshire was one of the driest counties, it was also one of the highest users of water per head of population.

He pointed to the need to change behaviours and use water more sparingly. And he said that with so many new homes planned for the county, drainage would need to be a consideration.

Work has been ongoing on the strategy since the county council declared a ‘climate emergency’ in July.