GREEN campaigner Richard Barnett has won his battle to keep more than 20 solar panels which provide 80 per cent of his electricity.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) has given him permission to retain the energy-saving devices, which are mounted on his garage roof, pictured above.

Mr Barnett, 51, of Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, pictured right, decided to strike a blow for the environment by making his six-bedroom home more eco-friendly.

However, New Forest District Council cast a shadow over his attempt to harness the power of the sun.

The freelance consultant received a strongly-worded letter saying his attempt to cut his carbon dioxide emissions breached council planning policies and would have to be abandoned.

The case was referred to the NPA, which has allowed him to keep the panels in a move that could pave the way for similar schemes across the Forest.

"We've had to lower the angle a little and box them in but the panels are still up and running," said Mr Barnett. "We've generated over 3,000 kilowatt hours since March, thus saving' more than 1.7 tonnes of CO2.

"The long, hot summer produced loads of electricity. To have had to take the panels down would have been dreadful and, in the light of the recent Stern report on climate change, would have made no sense at all."

Sandy Tolmay, the NPA's senior monitoring and enforcement officer, said: "When the property was first inspected the solar panels were considered visually intrusive. By meeting and discussing the issue the authority has been able to find a solution that suited everyone."