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PR 28 - Joint principles of freedom to innovate and reduce CO2 are key to tackling climate change at local level

10 September 2007

There has been much made in recent weeks of the role the Merton Rule plays in tackling climate change. The Merton Rule is the latest Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Silver Jubilee Cup winner, the top prize in planning. Rumours the Government will abandon or water down the rule are rife. However the RTPI believes the joint principles of the rule, reducing CO2 emissions and freedom for local authorities to innovate in making policy to achieve this objective, should be strengthened.

Rynd Smith, RTPI director of policy and communications, said: \"The RTPI strongly supports both the principle of reducing CO2 emissions and the principle of using local planning policy innovations to achieve this end. We believe these principles need to be supported and strengthened in the forthcoming PPS on Climate Change. The Merton Rule is an innovative piece of local policy which shows how planning can make an important contribution to tackling climate change. There is a role for the Merton Rule's objectives to be taken up by national policy, but this should not prevent ongoing innovation at a local level\".

The 'Merton rule' as it has become known is a type of local policy that requires developers to ensure at least 10% of all energy production for new development comes from renewable energy, generated on site. The Government may be looking to extend this amount in order to meet wider targets on climate change.

Currently 150 local authorities are signed up to the Merton rule, although the proposed Planning Policy Statement on climate change could potentially require all councils to sign up to an even stronger policy. The Government must be aware that pursuing policies set at a national level will not necessarily be incompatible with or close the door to innovative new thinking to further improve climate change responses at the local level. New local policies should be welcome as long as they are soundly technically based and do not impose disproportionate costs on householders or businesses. Local policy innovation at Merton was very valuable and the RTPI hopes that new local innovation can continue to function as a laboratory for future national initiatives.

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Andrew Kliman, communications manager, 0207 929 9479,

Rynd Smith, Director of Policy and Communications, 0207 929 9474,

Notes to Editors

1. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
The 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 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at: www.rtpi.org.uk
41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865

2. The 2006 Planning Awards full Judges' Report can be found at: http://www.rtpi.org.uk/download/484/JUDGES-REPORT-2006.doc

3. To see the full press release on Merton's win at the RTPI Planning Awards: http://www.rtpi.org.uk/item/463/pg_dtl_art_news/242/pg_ftr_art