Councillors have overturned a decision from the planning department to refuse solar panels on the Papa Stour kirk.
SIC planners had rejected an application for 12 panels on the roof on the historic building, saying it would have an “adverse visual impact” on the listed kirk.
The Papa Stour History and Community Group, who bought the dilapidated kirk from the Church of Scotland in 2016, had appealed the decision.
The group want to turn the building into a visitor centre and community hub, and said the panels would help them cut down on their electricity costs as well as mitigating climate change.
But planning officer Marianna Porter told Wednesday’s planning committee meeting that the panels would “not be in keeping with the historic appearance of the listed building”.
Peter Bardell, from the Papa Stour history group, said their actions had “saved this building” from falling into ruin.
He told members that water had been coming in through the roof and walls when they took it on, and it was now wind and water-tight.
Councillors said they felt they had done an impressive amount of work to save the building, and that the solar panels would not have much effect on such a small community.
“This group have done a huge amount of work and a lot of research to get this church building into a usable condition for the community,” Catherine Hughson said.
“We can’t lose sight of the size of the Papa Stour community, and there isn’t a lot of buildings on Papa Stour that can be used for community use.
“I think they should be allowed to put solar panels where they are.”
Mark Robinson agreed, saying that the work of the group was “absolutely amazing”.
And chairman Robbie McGregor, who said he looked out onto a derelict church building in Quarff, said he was “so jealous” of what the Papa Stour community group had achieved.
The committee agreed to overturn the planning department’s decision and to approve the application.