When Queensland lawyer Tim O’Dwyer read at home the first report below in The Courier Mail about neighbours annoyed by a Gold Coast property owner’s “solar farm”, he wondered how long it would take for there to be television interest in this novel neighbourhood dispute. Tim has participated over the years in more than a few TV current affairs stories about neighbours upset over fences, trees, rubbish piles, dogs, parked cars and even surveilance cameras. Needless to say, it was not long before he received a call from Channel 9 to arrange an interview later that day here in our Mitchells. The story ran that night on the 6.00 PM Channel 9 News with not-unexpectedly angry grabs from the neighbours and this concise comment from the unrepentant retiree who had placed the 40 offending solar panels on a purpose-built frame on his property: “Then whatever you do on your property is your thing, and whatever I do on mine is my thing.”
This is essentially what O’Dwyer told Channel 9 insofar as the wood frame had apparently been fully approved and inspected in accordance with Gold Coast City Council regulations. So what could the neighbours do other than complain loudly? “But there is something neighbours can do, ” the Nine News reporter said, “sue for damages. Tim was then shown (in our board-room) sagely advising: “If they (the panels) impact upon your enjoyment of your property – with something like this such as a (serious) glare – that could be an actionable nuisance.” In his interview Tim had explained further (but unreported) that a court nuisance action for damages might also include a claim for an injunction to remove the panels, but this would be a possible remedy only for those neighbours “significantly” affected by glare from the array of panels.
The significant and damaging impact of such glare would need to be proved clearly and scientifically. Neighbours unaffected by glare would have no obvious remedy for ugliness, loss of view or safety concerns.
Please return here to post your comment.