Planners have given the thumbs up to install 'lifeline' solar panels at a 300-year old community owned pub.

The New Inn at Halse requested permission to install the panels after its energy bills soared four-fold. The council were told the green energy initiative would slash bills by as much as 30 per cent - with the pub's energy costs estimated to rise to £48,000 this year.

Mike Davis, of Halse and District Community Benefit Society, said: “We now face energy costs that have gone up four-fold and we face crippling losses.

“If we cannot install the panels we will have to shut the pub as it will not be viable, even with the sales growth we are experiencing.

The pub was shut when the Covid 19 pandemic hit, after 300 years of uninterrupted trade. It was revived by a scheme was saw 200 local residents buy shares in the premises.

The public house has gone on to now employ 14 members of staff and provide a hub for 28 local clubs and societies.

The plans were backed by the Halse Parish council, who made an exception to back the project. Parish Clerk Tim Payne said: "My Council has considered the application and, having been reassured that this would not set a direct precedent for similar applications where solar panels are proposed on roof-pitches facing the highway, resolved to support the application."

Dismissing concerns that the solar panels would be deleterious to the area's conservation zone, the council approved them, saying: "The proposal is not considered to have a significant impact upon the amenity of appearance of the Conservation Area, and is considered to accord with policy."