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Planning for renewables con to be pursued by Minister
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A Government Minister has pledged to take up a campaign initiated by a UK renewable energy and microgeneration company. Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, has agreed to discuss the growing chaos surrounding the installation of solar panels with the Department for Communities and Local Government. Barker’s proposed intervention follows lobbying by David Hunt, a director of the company and will be supported by Shadow Energy Ministers Huw Irranca-Davies and Luciana Berger.
Planning for renewables con to be pursued by Minister

The campaign, which has been reported on our news page previously, was triggered after a number of local councils, including Eden District Council and West Lancashire Council, told homeowners they needed to seek permission before having solar panels installed.

This is despite Government guidance that planning permission is not required unless someone lives in a listed building or conservation area and Building Regulations are not an issue as long as the homeowner uses a contractor listed under the Government’s Competent Person Scheme.

Hunt, whose company has offices across the UK, said: “We are delighted that both a Government Minister and two Shadow Ministers have taken up our campaign which seeks to bring an end to attempts by councils to make life difficult for homeowners trying to embrace renewable energy solutions. Since we launched our campaign a few weeks ago we have heard about horror stories across the UK which is causing serious damage to the Government’s stated agenda of encouraging people to look seriously at renewable energy options for their homes.

“This will continue to be the case as long as councils are putting road-blocks in the way by telling homeowners they need planning permission, Building Regulations and Certificates of Lawfulness and charging them for the pleasure. We look forward to hearing the response from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

“The Government should publish a simple, definitive guide for councils to follow which make it clear that there is no room for local authorities to make up their own rules and regulations. Perhaps then we will finally see a 100 per cent consistent approach towards renewable energy schemes across the country.”

Energy Minister Greg Barker said in a letter to his two Labour Shadow Ministers: “I agree it is important that local councils are fully aware of the planning rules relating to solar panels. I am happy to raise this matter with my colleagues at the DCLG to explore options for making sure these rules are clearly understood by councils and continue to work with them on removing barriers to the take up of microgeneration technologies.”

Mr Irranca-Davies said: “I urge the Government to work with industry to cut out any unnecessary barriers and confusion over planning and building regulations.”

Rating:  0 (2)  Add feedback ...

 Positive review of this story
9 Jun 2011, 8:20 AM 
This approach is not necessarily wise.
I've always had mixed feelings about renewables companies seeing planning authorities as a barrier. This is because local support and sensitivity to local variation and local needs are all such distinctive and important aspects to renewables projects.

I don't think the way forward is lobbying for a one size fits all approach or central diktat to force councils to comply, because this mindset leads inevitably to single large energy solutions being imposed locally, like large wind farms or nuclear power.

I think the way forward is a much more constructive dialogue and supportive relationship between renewables companies and local authorities, facilitated by education and process efficiencies in the planning system. These include selective GPDOs, yes, and also easy-to-use toolkits and guidance, like the recent Enplanner ( toolkit released by the Carbon Trust. This enables planning statements for renewables to be produced for £30 and has been developed in partnership with 8 planning authorities in the Midlands.
 Negative Review of this story
 David Hunt- Eco Environments  9 Jun 2011, 12:36 PM 
We do need both
We do as a company engage with planners, recently we hosted 20 on a site visit followed by a presentation and Q&A. Very constructive. However here we are not talking about wind turbines, or large scale renewables projects, all of which should and do need treating case by case. We are talking about basic domestic solar installations about which the rules are clear, but not being consistently followed. And some councils ARE using the situation to generate incone.

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