Row boils over as council takes court action

John Ellison with his two boilers
John Ellison with his two boilers

A Lancaster businessman claims the city council is wasting thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money pursuing legal action over his boilers.

John Ellison was the first person in the UK to install two 50Kw Hoval Agrolyt gasifying wood burning boilers at his property off Sunnyside Lane, and says he has since enjoyed cheaper energy and control over his own energy production.

But Lancaster City Councillor Jon Barry said that neighbours in the firing line of smoke coming from the boilers’ flues, faced a “fairly horrendous” problem.

Mr Ellison uses surplus timber from his factory - Ellison AC Packaged Plant Solutions, in White Lund Industrial Estate - to power the boilers, which he says are environmentally friendly and may be used to burn wood within smoke controlled areas.

But complaints about excess smoke from the flues have left Mr Ellison himself boiling over after Lancaster City Council lodged criminal proceedings against him.

He said he was well within the law and the council “needed to get their facts straight”.

“The boilers are very effective and there’s very little ash left over which means there’s very little smoke on the whole,” he said.

“But when they fire up they smoke until they reach the right temperature. It’s not in breach of the Clean Air Act and they’re exempt in smoke controlled areas. The council’s own website shows these boilers and shows that they are exempt.”

Mr Ellison said two years ago the boiler started smoking from the flue, so he fixed a fan and solved the problem.

He added: “The council should be embracing all this, but instead they’re wasting their time with criminal proceedings.

“They hadn’t even sought technical advice until now.

“They’re also wasting money on employing a consultant to look at the boilers when I can give them all the information they need.

I just want them to stop hassling me, and get their facts straight, and stop wasting mine and tax payers’ money.”

Coun Barry said: “I’ve seen some videos of the smoke from the boilers and, for those residents in the firing line, the problem was certainly fairly horrendous.

“However, I’m also told that the problem was previously far less - hardly anything before 2012. So, if there is a way that the issue can be solved amicably without resorting to court action then I’m sure that this would be in the best interests of everybody. I’d be very happy to broker a meeting between Mr Ellison, the City Council and local residents to see if we could sort something out.”

Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, said: “As this case is still ongoing, the council is unable comment at this time. Once the legal process has been completed we will be able to provide a detailed response.”

Mr Ellison set up his company in 1973, and in 1988 it became the UK service division for De Deietrich boilers.

It now makes boiler and chiller rooms

He moved

Ellison AC Packaged Plant Solutions.

The company makes boiler and chiller rooms, and is based at the White Lund Industrial Estate in Morecambe.

We have a solar array on the roof of the business, and I have them here on the roof at home.

It’sIf it’s a damp dull day they smoke whilst heating up.

The council has asked me to pay £1,000 up front for costs.

They’ve issued proceedings and I’m having to defend it at my own cost, but I’m 100 per cent confident I’m acting within the law.

Mr Ellison built his house in 1985.

I’m a boiler engineer myself, and I was trained on them by the designer himself.

They’re common all over Europe, but not so much here.

A Any boiler can fail, but the council have been at me for two years.

I’ve lived in Lancaster all my life and employ a lot of people locally.

They’re the best boilers you can get and they’re installed in major set ups in Glasgow, Manchester and London.