Solar Panels Controversy In Chiswick
Local sets up petition to retain panels put up without permission
A Chiswick woman has set up a petition to persuade Hounslow Council to allow her to retain solar panels on her home.
Joy Skinner and her husband installed 19 panels on their house opposite the blank warehouse wall of Fullers Brewery in Chiswick Lane South. She claims they did so only after consulting Hounslow Council officials, who said they were unlikely to be refused retrospective planning permission.
The photo shows the panels on the right
“We needed scaffolding to repair and paint our upper windows that face the brewery on Chiswick Lane South, and at the same time it was suggested that we put solar panels on the wall but that they would have to be put up before the 1st of August in order to catch the existing tariff. On the 15th of June, we telephoned the Planning Dept and confirmed to them that we were in a Conservation Area but not in a listed building or overlooked by neighbours windows."
Mrs. Skinner says that she could not get planning permission in time for the August deadline but that she checked with the Highways Department of the Council and was told she could go ahead and apply for a retrospective Certificate of Lawfulness which they were unlikely to be refused. She said they also checked with the Hounslow Energy Manager,"who gave us his enthusiastic support."
She said the advice was given by the officers of the Planning, Highways and Energy Depts. and that she was told that it was to be likely to be granted because of the Council's commitment to the Govt's energy objectives.
"The Council have now told us that we will be refused Planning Permission and will have to remove them as a result of complaints from 5 people and the Old Chiswick Preservation Society (OCPS) We hope that more civic minded people will support us by signing our petition for their retention,“ she says.
The matter has caused a good deal of local debate with some claiming the panels are “an eyesore” and others remarking they have little sympathy for the couple for going ahead with the work and claiming the permission retrospectively. Those who support the couple say that they are not causing any problem to neighbours since they are not overlooked, and that it would be unfair to penalise them.
Joy Skinner denies the panels are an eyesore and says that most people walking by the river do not even notice them.
She says that the Council took this decision early in October but did not put up the statutory notice asking for public reactions to the panels until the 23rd.
"We are upset because we would not have embarked on such an expensive 'green' gesture if we had not the initial encouragement. We, ourselves, are unlikely to profit from the panels as the payback is stated as 25 years and we are in our eighties".
She claims that she carried out a recent survey of opinion, knocking on doors and asking passers-by which resulted in 168 signatures of whom 166 supported the retention of the panels, and only two supported the Council's position. Another five abstained from giving an opinion.
November 19, 2012