Boot Questioned On Planning And Our Environmental Footprint

Yesterday’s HoK Questions – DEFA Minister Geoffrey Boot got quizzed on southern planning and what support there is for residents who want to reduce their environmental footprint at home.

Jason Moorhouse to ask the Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture – What action his Department takes to advise and support local residents who want to insulate and reduce the environmental footprint of their home?

Geoffrey Boot – This is a vital importance as we head towards net zero by 2050, they make up 34% of our entire island emissions and this is growing. DEFA is working to improve this through the Energy Efficiency Scheme to advise on how to save money and reduce emissions which is available on our website. We also have a grant scheme for those seeking to make improvements that pays up to 75% to a limit of £1,000. We have also made improvements to this scheme.

Juan Watterson – Our hour is up. Treasury Minister Alf Cannan proposes the question paper is completed, Minister Graham Cregeen seconds and so it continues. 

Jason Moorhouse – When will local residents be able to access Green Living Grants and the cost of damp proofing is high on the island, could you help people get better value for money? 

Geoffrey Boot – I hope more will be coming on the grants soon and with damp proofing, old grants were removed some time ago, we have taken it back to look at if there is an appetite for this but we have to draw a line somewhere. 

Lawrie Hooper – Programme for Gov in 2016 made this a priority why has it taken until now to move this? What does DEFA propose for people who can’t afford improvements?

Geoffrey Boot – We did bring in a scheme which was woefully underfunded and means tested which was then dropped. In terms of innovative approaches, the new scheme will be far more wider reaching and will address a number of issues raised by members and the citizens’ forum. We now have a commitment to address climate change, at the start of this administration it wasn’t necessarily a priority, now it is. 

Chris Thomas – Can you confirm that the 2016-2020 action plan wasn’t a priority until 2018?

Geoffrey Boot – The action plan was a priority but there was grading of priorities. 

Daphne Caine – Do you feel there is now adequate funding?

Geoffrey Boot – The previous scheme wasn’t a success but now we have a big commitment going forward. 

Jason Moorhouse to ask the Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture – Whether the Planning Committee applies updated rules for applications for residential houses in the South of the Island; and to what extent the Southern Plan is the overriding influence when making decisions?

Geoffrey Boot – Planning takes into account a number of factors, in its simplest form, my answer is that there have been no updates to the area plan for the south. In relation to planning applications, all the considerations are set out in the Town and Country Planning Act. Each application is considered on a case by case basis.

Jason Moorhouse – Just to clarify each application is reviewed equally? 

Geoffrey Boot – There is a process and and in terms of the Southern Area Plan, that is still the relevant plan but it is getting a bit aged. There is a Castletown review because of what was viewed as a lack of housing in the south, while it does play into decisions, it does not override the SAP.

Chris Thomas – Why did you choose to answer this question instead of the planning committee chairman?

Geoffrey Boot – I was asked to answer it so I answered it. 

Jason Moorhouse – How are appeals being handled during lockdown?

Geoffrey Boot – The appeal process has had to be modified during lockdown, consequently after some experimentation we have a system that allows virtual meetings to be held and virtual site visits. We don’t administer the appeals, that is Cabinet Office but as DEFA Minister the final decision is mine. The appeal process is robust.

Chris Thomas – As the de facto head of planning, do you acknowledge the planning committee has a right to disagree with him?

Geoffrey Boot – I would’ve thought that was implicit, I don’t get involved unless there is an appeal. 

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