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Ease planning restrictions for renewable energy projects

Comment 12th February 2015

There is already some easing of restrictions on installing microgeneration equipment on your own property, but this should go much further. Ultimately, there should be a right to erect specified kinds of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems on your own property without lengthy planning applications. This could include solar panels, wind turbines, micro-hydro, small biomass power plants, microhydro, and external insulation cladding for homes.

Some consideration can be made for actual physical impact like actual noise levels in densely populated areas, particulate pollution from biomass burning etc. These can be predetermined from knowing the type of system that will be built. But largely, the criteria of visual/landscape impact should no longer apply. It could be possible that renewable energy installations, subject to simple assessment criteria, could be removed entirely from the planning process.

Also, anti-competitive rules for large companies should be reformed to permit water companies to get into the renewable electricity generation business. At the moment they are only allowed to install renewables for generating electricity for their own use, not for export to the grid. They own lots of land suitable for renewables, but can't make use of it due to these restrictions.

Why does this matter?

The growth of renewable energy in the UK has been held back by people objecting to visual impacts of wind turbines, and even solar panels. We need urgently to reduce carbon emissions and increase our energy independence and renewables can play an important role. Impact on the view is not sufficient ground for objection when we should be on a war footing to combat climate change and the energy supply issue.

Other regulations should also be examined to identify and remove unnecessary restrictions on renewables.

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