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New planning rules insist on renewables

New planning rules announced by Government yesterday will bind local councils into including renewable power as an integral part of any future developments.

The new planning rules on economic growth - Planning Policy Statement number 4 (PPS4) - ensures local authority planning allows for sustainable methods, part of the drive to meet targets for increasing numbers of residential properties.

Speaking yesterday, housing minister Yvette Cooper said: "We need the planning system to do more to back jobs, economic growth and regeneration but also to support higher environmental standards as we do so. Economic growth and environmental standards are not alternatives they need to go hand in hand."

The announcement came on the same day as a report by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), commissioned by the Housing Minister, which recommends similar measures to curb carbon emissions from commercial properties.

The housing minister added: "We need to be environmentally ambitious about all buildings, not just housing. We don't just need eco homes - we need eco offices, eco shops, eco pubs and clubs."

With 18% of all UK carbon emissions originating from commercial properties, the report was welcomed by the British Property Federation (BPF) as more 'realistic' than the Merton Rule, which requires non-residential developments to generate at least 10% of their energy from renewable sources.

The BPF’s chief executive, Liz Peace, commented: "We welcome today's announcement which represents a compromise between those who want total freedom to meet energy needs in the most efficient way and those who believe developers must be tied to a specific form of renewables. The key factor to successful green development is flexibility."

As a result of the Planning Policy Statement local authorities will also be expected to research ways to link local micro-generation systems into the energy supply for the wider community.

The Department for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reforms has planned a consultation to start later this week which will discuss the economic viability of modifying the national grid framework to include decentralised energy schemes.

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