End Of The Road For Chiswick 'Solar Panels' Battle

The controversial panels are being removed today


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An elderly Chiswick couple who lost their appeal against a Council enforcement order to remove nineteen controversial solar panels, are having the panels taken down today.

The couple have until Sunday to remove the panels or face a £20,000 fine. James Skinner said he was feeling "pretty cheesed off". Scaffolding has been erected and workmen have started the process of removing the panels this morning.

James and Joy Skinner of Heron House, Chiswick Lane South, had been battling to have the panels retained. The Skinners set up a petition which they say garnered 800 signatures to persuade Hounslow Council to allow them retain the solar panels installed on their house opposite the blank warehouse wall of Fuller's Brewery.

The couple also said the Mayor Boris Johnston had commended them "for embracing low carbon technology and installing solar panels”.

The Skinners had installed the panels without planning permission in order to avail of a special reduction before the deadline. But Mrs. Skinner had claimed they did so only after consulting Hounslow Council officials who had said by telephone they were unlikely to be refused retrospective planning permission. However the Council did refuse permission.

The photo shows the panels on the right

Last year, Hounslow Council carried out an inspection of the case which ruled against the Skinners and an enforcement order was put in place to have the panels removed.

While the Inspector had "not found the panels to be offensively intrusive in the street scene", he also found that they were " a sizable and somewhat discordant feature in an area in which national policy advances the desirability of preserving or enhancing its character or appearance". Negotiations between the Skinners and Hounslow Council failed to reach agreement and the couple were told to remove the solar panels or face a heavy fine.

James Skinner said he had made a formal complaint to Hounslow Council, firstly for "giving wrong advice" which had misled them into thinking they would be given planning permission, and secondly because he believed the Council had "broken their own Consultation policy". It was stated on the Council website that the Council was committed to consulting as widely as possible before making decisions but Mr. Skinner said Hounslow Council had not taken any notice of a poll carried out by himself and his wife which had a 166 to 2 result in favour of retaining the panels. The Council had not taken into account their Petition and had "ignored" their offer to commission an independent opinion poll, he said.

A council spokesperson said: “While we understand the environmental benefits that solar panels can have, the Planning Committee considered these to be excessive in size, and in a position which does not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Old Chiswick Conservation Area.

“This was backed up by two appeal decisions assessed by the Planning Inspectorate. Unfortunately, the residents chose to install the panels prior to obtaining the relevant planning approval from the Council.”

April 10, 2015

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