Headlines: June 9th, 2006

All local councils are being urged to insist that new developments in their areas have on-site renewable energy measures as a way of tackling climate change. The call, from Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper, coincided with the results of a Department for Communities and Local Government survey showing that many local authorities are already adopting such requirements in their local plans.The Minister said she wanted all authorities to do the same and the Government would include that request in the new planning policy guidance on climate change, which is due to be published later this year.

She told the Town and Country Planning Association’s Renewable Energy Association conference, “We need to seize on new development as an opportunity not a threat. It is time to rethink the way we build. It is time to rethink the way we design our homes and communities, if we are to build communities for the future that are truly sustainable.”

The Minister said the aim had to be zero carbon development and the Government believed the Thames Gateway could lead the way in this. “We do not know yet how fast we can get there, but the development industry should be clear about our aims and should start planning now for new investment and innovation to meet our goals,” Ms Cooper said.

The survey of local councils shows that since planning guidance published in August 2004, 121 emerging development plans had come forward in England. Of these, 29 were new style plans where a policy reflecting paragraph 8 on renewable energy could reasonably be expected. In fact, 26 of them did include such a policy and a further 13 old-style plans also included paragraph 8 policies.

Ms Cooper also repeated the commitment to reducing planning restrictions on small-scale microgeneration equipment for people’s homes. “It is patently absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house but should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale microgeneration which is no more obtrusive. We want far more microgeneration to be treated as permitted development,” she told the conference.