Calls to relax wind turbine rules

Wind turbines and solar panels are the key to Britain’s future but planning procedures and expense are hindering their introduction. Ministers are presenting a report to the government today (January 30), calling for local energy systems such as solar panels and wind turbines to be easier to install and more financially beneficial. Local energy, according to the report, has the potential to tackle the problems of energy security and climate change.

Under current laws homeowners must obtain planning permission before installing a local energy system, such as a solar panel set or wind turbine, to the exterior of their property. The application can cost up to £250 and take many weeks to process. Today’s report suggests local energy should be given ‘permitted development’ status ? the same as a satellite dish which can be erected without planning permission. The MPs said they hoped there would be “no significant delay” in relaxing the rules.

The idea is that local energy should carry a financial incentive for households. Some energy companies already buy back energy but homeowners have reported difficulties and delays in receiving payment. Ministers and the Energy Saving Trust argue that a ‘fair price’ is a vital incentive for homeowners considering converting to local energy. The installation of ‘smart’ electricity meters in homes, to calculate the electricity going in and coming out of the house was also suggested. In addition to the MPs they said that house price increases as a result of improved energy efficiency should not lead to higher council tax.

If local energy is embraced by British homeowners, the EST estimates that all household electricity needs, with excess being exported to the grid, as well as more than half of household heating demand by 2050. This equivalent to 30 to 40% of the UK’s electricity needs.