Councillor says DoI ‘overruled’ council

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Tuesday 5th April 2022 11:36 am
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Devon Watson

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The Department of Infrastructure has refuted claims made by Douglas councillor Devon Watson that it overruled a decision to put solar panels on the new Peel Road flats.

Mr Watson has said solar panels were included in original plans for the local authority flats in Douglas but the DoI said they were ‘unnecessary’.

He said: ‘The council have to apply for petition to loan for new builds prior to submitting a planning application, this loan taken by local authorities needs to be approved by the DoI.

‘The policy of the department is that solar panels are viewed as an unnecessary additional cost, hence why they were not included in developments in Willaston.

‘There is no indication that this policy was changed, during or since the planning and construction of the Peel Road flats.

‘This is primary impediment to their inclusion in future projects.

‘Rather than exchanging any more statements in public over this, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with the department and discuss the matter to ensure we can all work together for a more sustainable and green future and change policies that no longer work.

‘The addition of solar panels to new builds reduces expenses for tenants and is a welcome environmental improvement.

‘During a cost of living crisis we should be doing all we can to reduce the burden on local families.’

The DoI responded to these accusations on social media saying: ‘The department has never been involved in discussions with Douglas Borough Council or any of its officers about solar or photo-voltaic panels in respect of the Peel Road project,’ it said.

‘The department’s Public Estates and Housing division collaborates with local authorities on major projects which require annual grants from government. The division was involved in the Peel Road project throughout the planning stages and in the early stages of construction and was not made aware of any intention to install panels.

‘The approved drawings and specification make no note of the inclusion of photo-voltaic cells or panels and the department fully supported the new development throughout its construction phase to completion.’

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