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PR 14 - It's about time for a public debate on microgeneration say planners

04 April 2007

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) today welcomed Ruth Kelly's announcement on a consultation paper making it easier for householders to produce their own onsite energy. The proposals were first heralded by Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper back in November 2005. They have been impatiently awaited ever since by the planning profession, alternative technology providers, major retailers, and by ordinary householders wanting to do their bit to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Kelvin MacDonald, Director of Policy and Research said: \"Planners have placed tackling climate change at the heart of their work. Making it easier for householders to install renewable energy sources such as solar panels is a fundamental part of this process. It is about time these permitted development rights were brought forward by Government.  

\"Yet, these proposals relate only to microgeneration on houses so they are no more than a first step. It should be made just as easy to install well designed microgeneration equipment on flats, institutions, and commercial developments in general.\"

Microgeneration technologies remain in their infancy.  They are still unfamiliar to many people but widespread take-up will dramatically change the appearance of our residential areas.  There has been little discussion about what constitutes good practice in terms of the design and location of new installations. The RTPI looks forward to wider public debate on this subject and hopes the Government might take the lead by promoting some good practice guidelines.

It is understood the Government delayed announcing these proposals earlier because it is concerned that the noise and vibration of some wind turbines could disturb neighbours.  The RTPI's message is that planning enforcement powers make the planning system sufficiently robust to deal with any noisy installations.  Well drafted conditions governing the maximum noise and vibration experienced from next door properties can ensure that only non-intrusive forms of microgeneration would be allowed as permitted development.

There also remain issues of preservation and heritage. The Government's proposals will take a stricter approach that means it will be necessary to apply for planning permission for much equipment on Listed Buildings, or in Conservation Areas.  The RTPI agrees with this approach, but would encourage planning authorities to weigh up the situation with a bias toward onsite clean energy production wherever possible.

ENDS

 For further information please contact:

Andrew Kliman, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479, mob. 07870 672 020

Kelvin MacDonald, RTPI Director of Policy and Research, 0207 929 9474

 

Notes to Editors:

1.  The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

As well as promoting spatial planning, RTPI develops and shapes policy affecting the built environment, works to raise professional standards and supports members through continuous education, training and development.

2.    Communities and Local Government news release can be found at:

         http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=2404

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at: www.rtpi.org.uk