In proposals published today for consultation, homeowners, developers and businesses will be able to install their own on-site wind turbines, and air source heat pumps without the expense and red tape of planning permission.
The new rules would also allow councils and electric car drivers to install electric car charger points on streets and in car parks without needing to make a planning application.
The relaxation of the planning rules would come with strict caveats about size, noise levels, location and the visual impact on an area. During the course of the three month consultation, the Government will be asking for views about these standards and requirements for the final legislation. Once agreed by Parliament, the new rights would be closely monitored and regularly reviewed.
The announcement today echoes the call John Healey made last week for a national crusade to tackle climate change. He called on all homeowners, developers, tenants and landlords to make the changes that make big differences in the run up to Copenhagen and beyond.
For the first time, the proposals will outline how businesses and public buildings will be able to install renewable technologies such as solar panels. This could lead to the installation of new solar roofs at stadiums, schools and railway stations, or recladding an office building with solar panels, potentially saving thousands of pounds a year on energy bills. Wind turbines up to 15metres high would be permitted, in locations like industrial estates or agricultural areas where they would not become a nuisance to residents.
The package is an important part of the Governments Renewable Energy Strategy to achieve the transformation we need over the next decade to minimise our carbon footprint. If these measures are taken up, these technologies are likely to lead to huge changes to our environment and the way our homes, towns and cities are designed.
Housing Minister, John Healey, said:
The people who want to greenproof their homes should get a helping hand, not a stop sign. Our planning rules need to catch up with changing technologies and allow people to take the small measures that make big differences. Not only could this save up to hundreds of pounds in fuel bills, they will also help the environment.
At the same time we need tough rules so that permitted development does not become a nuisance, so I am putting in place strong safeguards in relation to noise levels, size, location and the potential impact on an area.
As a country, nearly half of our carbon emissions come from buildings. Thats more than roads, railways and airports combined. To stand a chance of tackling climate change, we need nothing less than a national crusade with everyone able to play their part to offset carbon emissions.
Its not long now until the Copenhagen climate change conference in December. It is essential we achieve an ambitious, comprehensive and binding agreement and we are working flat out to secure that. We need a deal that works globally but also leads to continued change here at home.
It is estimated that more than 30 per cent of our electricity could be generated from renewables by 2030. A well placed wind turbine in a windy area could save a household up to 380 in electricity bills a year.
Energy Minister, Lord Hunt, said:
Our clean energy cashback scheme coming next year will mean people get paid to produce their own renewable energy. We cant allow the planning system to get in the way of tackling climate change. Weve already had an overhaul of the planning system for big energy projects and now were working on the smaller scale. Small scale renewable generation will contribute to us meeting our renewable energy target for 2020 and making sure we cut our carbon emissions.
Kelvin MacDonald, Policy Adviser at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said:
The RTPI supports the Governments initiative to make it easier for householders and businesses to install renewable technologies. This is a positive step on the path towards making our energy supply more secure and less carbon-intensive and micro-renewables such as solar and heat pumps have an important role to play.
Its also important that the proposals take account of local circumstances and historic buildings. It will be important for planners to assess these proposals and provide their input to government to ensure the new measures are both workable and flexible enough to adapt to fast-changing renewable technologies.
Notes to editors
1.In the 2007 Planning White Paper, Planning for a Sustainable Future, CLG set out the Governments commitment to extend, wherever practicable, permitted development rights to renewable energy equipment, installed both on domestic and non-domestic premises. The approach is rooted both in the drive for a better regulatory environment and to promote provision of renewable energy through the planning system.
2.Last year CLG introduced new permitted development rights for householders, granting them the freedom to extend their properties without the need to apply for planning permission. These included new rights for microgeneration equipment, including solar panels and biomass systems. Under the proposed changes, non domestic properties such as offices, institutions, industries and farm properties will be able to make similar changes to their properties as well as installing solar panels which homeowners have been able to do since rules introduced last year.
3.This consultation proposes to grant permitted development rights in the planning system for certain types of small scale renewable and low carbon energy technologies, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By removing the requirement to obtain planning permission from the local planning authority, these proposals will make it much easier for householders, businesses and others to install renewable and low carbon technologies in both domestic and non-domestic settings. The proposals will also assist in facilitating the development of a robust electric vehicle charging network, so as to encourage the take up of electric vehicles.
4.The impacts of renewable and low carbon energy technologies will vary on a case by case basis according to the type of the development, its location and setting. Development that is appropriate in one place may not be acceptable somewhere else and permitted development rights need to reflect this. This consultation therefore proposes that limits to what would be permitted would vary according to their site and location. For instance, in reflecting the impacts of the various technologies, the consultation proposes different limits for detached and non-detached properties, for residential and industrial areas, for conservation areas and national parks etc. A key question for the Government in this consultation is whether the conditions and thresholds proposed for these forms of permitted development are correct.
5.The proposals would grant permitted development rights [by amending the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995] for the following:
On domestic premises:
Wind turbines and air source heat pumps, subject to certain limitations/conditions, such as a requirement to be installed and certified through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (to ensure industry standards), a maximum noise level (no more than 45dB), appropriate siting, maximum height/size/number of installations and restrictions relating to sensitive areas (e.g. Conservation Areas, World Heritage Sites). Introducing permitted development rights for these domestic technologies would complete the picture for householders, as permitted development rights for other domestic technologies, such as solar panels, were introduced in April 2008.
On non-domestic premises:
Wind turbines and air source heat pumps, with similar limitations/conditions to domestic installations, but generally with greater thresholds as appropriate. A 45dB noise limit is proposed;Solar panels subject to certain limitations/conditions, such as limits on size, siting, height (where freestanding), number of installations;Ground and water source heat pumps subject to limitations / conditions, principally area of piping and (for ground source heat pumps) area of excavation;Flues for biomass systems and combined heat and power systems, subject to limitations / conditions such as capacity of system and flue height.With regard to wind turbines, air source heat pumps and solar panels, we are proposing to be more permissive in terms of granting permitted development rights for Class B2: General Industrial premises, as they already have extensive permitted development rights including for the installation of plant and machinery whose impacts can be greater than those for the technologies we are proposing.
In addition to the above, for agricultural and forestry premises only:
Structures to house anaerobic digestion systems and biomass boilers; and associated fuel stores.Structures to house hydro-turbines (for hydro systems);For these structures, we propose to clarify that these structures should be considered to benefit from the same permitted development rights / prior approval procedures as other agricultural and forestry land, by making this explicit in legislation.
6.To comply with the new rules, the equipment and its installers will be expected to meet the standards of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. This is a system of certification that the Government has set up in partnership with the microgeneration industry other organisations representing consumer interests. The schemes purpose is to ensure the quality and reliability of installations and build consumer confidence in the new technologies.
7.The Microgeneration Certification Scheme establishes clear standards to support the installation of wind turbines and air source heat pumps. The main purpose of the scheme is to build consumer confidence in microgeneration technologies and to help move the industry to a sustainable position. It includes certification for products and installer companies, and a code of practice based on The Office of Fair Trading Consumer Code. Permitted development rights for wind turbines and air source heat pumps will only be accorded for equipment installed by an installer who has been certificated through the scheme using a certificated product. The installer would therefore be responsible for ensuring that the installation meets permitted development noise standards at the time of installation. For further details, see the Microgeneration Certification Schemes website at: www.microgenerationcertification.org/
8.The consultation paper also includes proposals to help the electric vehicle industry. In July 2008, the Prime Minister called for the removal of planning barriers that might hinder development of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Our proposed measures do just that both by clarifying what local authorities can already do in terms of installing on street charging points and by introducing new rights for householders, institutions and businesses including supermarkets and public car parking operators to install off street charging points.