Headlines: April 13th, 2007



Local authorities are being urged to do more to help increase the number of households generating their own electricity. The think tank the Local Government Information Unit wants councils to promote the benefits of decentralised power and to give local people the planning information they need to help them do so.

In a response to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on changes to the rules on Permitted Development, the LGIU said councils could be better at promoting use of localised energy and do more to encourage the take-up of small-scale generation to get away from microgeneration being seen as merely “a niche enterprise”.

The LGIU says authorities should consider the balance between encouraging householders to install microgeneration systems and protecting those living nearby and the environment while, at the same time, offering incentives to make the new techniques more viable. LGIU policy analyst Gemma Roberts said the consultation was an important part of the low carbon economy jigsaw puzzle.

“Choosing the low carbon option needs to be simple and transparent, but seeking planning permission can be a daunting prospect. Easing the restrictions for microgeneration should therefore encourage more householders to make these changes,” she said. Councils should provide information on the planning system alongside local environmental campaigns or projects so householders were informed about their options for energy efficiency savings.

She said there were a number of obstacles to the take-up of microgeneration, including the complexity of the planning system, the choice of technology, installation and the issue of selling electricity back to the National Grid. “For microgeneration to have a wider impact, local authorities need to promote the advantages of decentralised power, bringing together all these information strands and providing advice for the community,” she said.

The LGIU wants councils to consider whether the changes outlined in the consultation go far enough. The consultation closes on June 27th. Under the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act local authorities have a duty to encourage and support localised heat and electricity from renewable sources.