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Planning Authorities: Renewable Energy

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what advice her Department is giving to local planning authorities wishing to adopt a Merton planning rule requiring onsite renewable energy; and what changes have been made to that advice since the written ministerial statement of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 33WS, on PPS22; (159370)

(2) whether it is Government policy that all local planning authorities should require on site renewable energy installations in all major new developments; and if she will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 15 October 2007, Official Report, columns 860-61W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what her Department's estimate is of the total cost to local planning authorities of developing Merton planning rules as directed by the Housing Minister in the written ministerial statement of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 33WS, on PPS22; (159379)

(2) what her Department's estimate is of the amount of time spent by officials and inspectors in her Department in promoting the Merton rule as required by the written ministerial statement of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 33WS, on PPS22;

(3) what her Department's estimate is of the total cost to the public purse of promoting the Merton rule as required by the written ministerial statement of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 33WS, on PPS22;

(4) what advice planning inspectors are giving to local planning authorities who wish to adopt Merton rules requiring on site renewable energy in their local development frameworks;

(5) what steps she is taking to ensure that the written ministerial statement of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 33WS, on PPS22, is implemented in full.

The Department wrote to all planning authorities enclosing a copy of my June 2006 statement and in doing so underlined that those authorities which had not yet taken steps to include such policies in their plans should do so at the next available opportunity. Government Offices are active in their regions in encouraging planning authorities to bring forward local development documents in line with national policies.

All inspectors who will undertake the examination of development plan documents have also had the statement drawn to their attention. An inspector will check that a planning authority has prepared a development plan document legally and test whether it is ‘sound’. In doing so, the Inspector will consider whether the document is consistent with national planning policy. After the examination, the Inspector will produce a report with recommendations which will be binding on the authority.

No estimates have been made of the costs to local authorities of developing local policies on the use of on-site renewable energy, or of the time invested by officials in encouraging such policies, or of the proportion of the time spent by inspectors in their examination of development plan documents that is attributable to such policies. These estimates could only be assembled at a disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the role of the Merton Rule in delivering the Government's microgeneration strategy; and if she will make a statement. (157357)

We work closely with colleagues in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on both the regulatory framework for planning and planning policies. Our shared objective is for the planning system to give effective support to the Government's energy policies set out in the Energy White Paper and to sectoral strategies, including on microgeneration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many non-governmental organisations opposed the continuation of the Merton planning rule in their responses to the December 2006 consultation on the climate change planning policy statement; (159339)

(2) what percentage of respondents to the December 2006 climate change planning policy statement consultation objected to the Merton planning rule requiring onsite renewable energy in all major new developments; and what percentage of respondents to the consultation objected to the rule on grounds of cost.

The consultation draft of the planning policy statement (PPS): planning and climate change sought views on the proposal that local planning authorities should ensure that a significant proportion of the energy supply of substantial new development is gained on-site and renewably and/or from a decentralised, renewable or low-carbon, energy supply. Of the 324 consultation responses received, 52 per cent. of respondents agreed with this approach and 6 per cent. disagreed. No non-governmental organisation disagreed with the approach.

The report of consultation on the draft PPS was published on 23 July 2007 and is

available on the Department's website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/climate-report

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if she will list the representations she has received on the Merton Rule since January 2007; (159336)

(2) what representations her Department has received from the UK microgeneration industry on the Merton planning rule; and if she will make a statement;

(3) what steps her Department has taken since March 2007 to consult the UK's onsite renewable energy industry on the future of the Merton planning rule.

In response to our consultations on the draft planning policy statement on climate change and building a greener future we received a range of representations on the role of planning in securing local low and zero carbon energy use in new development. The reports of the consultations are available on the Department's website. We have continued the dialogue with stakeholders, including with the micro-generation and on-site renewables industry, on the development of our planning policies on climate change.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what advice she has received from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the role of the Merton planning rule in delivering the Government's micro-generation strategy; and if she will make a statement; (159344)

(2) what discussions the Housing Minister has had with the Energy Minister about the Merton planning rule and its role in delivering the Government's microgeneration strategy.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Paul Holmes) today (PQ 157357).