GREEN campaigners facing a race against time to install solar panels on the roof of Barton Neighbourhood Centre have criticised council delays.

Low Carbon Barton has said its project to install pholtovoltaic panels on the community building has faced long delays because of demands by Oxford City Council.

Now it risks missing an October 1 deadline to get the panels installed and registered.

Councillors are now meeting tomorrow to approve the lease of the of roof to Barton Community Association to try to save the project.

Rachael Peace, of Low Carbon Barton, said: “It is now very much a race against time.

“I have been working on this since April and have found lots of obstacles put in the project’s way by the city council.

“We have found the council is asking for a lot more documentation and information than is normal for installations like this.

“It is a mystery why it has taken so long.”

The project was launched when the council set up OXCo2 after winning low carbon funding from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, using the cash to promote and create green community groups across Oxford.

If installed, the solar panels will generate income and reduce the neighbourhood centre’s running costs. The group has had to secure a council lease to use the roof, but Ms Peace said she had faced repeated demands for more information about the project.

The project’s financing depends on it benefiting from the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s feed in tariff, which pays solar panel owners for the energy they generate when they sell it back to the national grid.

Money earned through the tariff would then be put back into community activities in Barton.

But to get the cash, they must have the solar panels installed and registered with Ofgem by October 1.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “The centre is owned by the council so we need to ensure that we follow the correct procedure for enabling the panels to be placed on the roof.

“We are working with Low Carbon Barton to ensure that this process is approved before the grant process runs out.”

Ms Peace believed local government bureaucracy would put off others from setting up green projects in Oxford.

She said: “When I give advice to other community groups, I would have to tell them honestly about the number of problems we have encountered, and that I really have had to put in extra work.”