Headlines: November 18th, 2009

Proposals to overhaul the planning system to make it easier for councils and residents to take steps to cut carbon emissions have been put out for consultation. Relaxations in planning regulations will come with caveats and if the proposals are agreed by Parliament after the three month consultation the Governments says the new rights would be closely monitored and regularly reviewed.

Under the proposals, homeowners, businesses and developers would be able to install on-site wind turbines and air source heat pumps without the expense of planning permission. Local councils and drivers of electric cars would also be allowed to install charger points on streets and in car parks without having to make a planning application. There would, though be strict limits on size, noise levels, location and the visual impact on an area.

The proposals also outline how businesses and public buildings would be able to install renewable technologies such as solar panels, which could lead to solar roofs on stadiums, schools and railway stations, or the recladding of office buildings with solar panels. Wind turbines up to 15 metres high would be allowed in locations such as industrial estates or agricultural areas where they would not be seen as a nuisance. The Government says the proposals are an important part of its Renewable Energy Strategy and if they come into force they could lead to big changes to the environment and the way homes, towns and cities are designed.

The 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.”