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Renewable Energy

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what impact she expects the recent changes to the Merton rule to have on progress towards the Government's targets for carbon dioxide emission reduction. (155448)

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: The Government have set out a timetable to cut carbon emissions from new homes. Major reductions will be required in 2010 and 2013. By 2016 all new homes must be zero carbon including appliances. These reductions need to be underpinned in the planning system as well as in building regulations, and they will require major increases in the use of renewables. “Merton Rules” are an important part of this framework.

As we gear up to our zero-carbon ambition, councils will be able to continue with and adopt new Merton Rules, although it is very important they are properly tested as part of development plan documents to ensure that standards are compatible with increasing affordable housing in the area. We also believe they should be sufficiently flexible to allow for off site as well as on site renewable technologies and councils should also consider wider local low carbon opportunities. The emphasis should be on minimising carbon emissions and maximising the scope for innovation. When there are clear carbon savings to be had from local energy supplies they should be included.

As we have said in “Building a Greener Future”, councils should have a strategy for securing decentralised and renewable and low carbon energy in new development. Our new Planning Policy Statement on climate change will therefore support local strategies that include both site (and area) specific targets and Merton-style rules. The area specific targets should be set for locations where higher proportions of renewable and low carbon energy are feasible and viable.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Government's policy is on the Merton Rule; and if she will make a statement. (158237)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) today (PQ 155448).