Island-based inventor and entrepreneur Dr John Taylor has won planning consent to erect three solar panels to power his ‘Hobbit home’ development.

But members of the planning committee were mystified as to why the panels needed to be so big.

Dr Taylor OBE’s application to erect three pole-mounted photovoltaic trackers with associated equipment (23/01364/B) is partially retrospective as the groundworks have already been installed.

Each tracker, which move with the sun, is made up of 36 panels measuring 1.8 2sqm and with a total area of 65.52 sqm. The trackers will produce 50,989 kW/hrs per year.

They will be used to power the quirky property being constructed by Dr Taylor at Ballawoods halt, Malew. Looking like something straight out of the pages of JRR Tolkien, the unique ‘Hobbit home’ is a landmark visible from the Steam Railway line.

The three-bedroom dwelling features huge corner stones inspired by the rustic Ugly House in Snowdonia, and a patinated copper tile roof that gives an architectural nod to Goldenes Dachl in Innsbruck, Austria.

Windows will be ellipsoid in shape with bronze-coloured stainless steel spokes.

The lower floor containing the garage and two en-suite bedrooms will be below ground level and hidden from view so that the building appears as single storey from the trackside and the road. Neighbour Steven Kelly told the planning committee that these were clearly not domestic solar panels and questioned where they had another purpose. ‘They are excessive in size to power one property,’ he said.

Dr John Taylor's Hobbit House
Dr John Taylor's Hobbit House (Media IoM)

He said the applicant had referred to the site at the Energy Centre and questioned whether he was planning to produce hydrogen there.

Mr Kelly claimed the solar panels could pose a hazard to drivers on the new bypass.

Manx Utilities noted that one of the drawings included with the planning application featured a building or object with reference to H, the chemical formula for hydrogen. ‘Its proximity to critical national infrastructure will need to be assessed should that be its intended use’, said the authority.

The applicant in his response to Manx Utilities said any future work relating to H will be submitted in a separate application. Committee member Helen Hughes said she had been ‘quite shocked’ by the size of solar panels when she went on the site visit - but noted that the land did dip down.

Fellow committee member Sam Skelton said: ‘I’m struggling to see how I can support something of that scale when I don’t think it’s needed.’

The committee approved the application, with four votes four and one against but with additional conditions that the solar panels cannot be installed before the substantial completion of the dwelling and thereafter they can only be used for domestic purposes.