In our plan-led planning system, planning applications must be determined in accordance with the statutory development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The regional and local plans which form the statutory development plan should be consistent with the Government’s objectives relating to small-scale renewable energy schemes and protecting green belts set out in national planning policies. Our Planning Policy Statement 22 on renewable energy makes it clear that the very special circumstances required to justify the grant of planning permission for inappropriate development in a green belt may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources. Planning authorities have also been advised not to reject planning applications simply because the level of output is small.
This summer’s consultation on the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) has underlined the importance of a clear planning framework which provides as much certainty as possible on whether a project for renewable energy is likely to gain consent. The RES has acknowledged that with a rapidly evolving set of national policy and guidance affecting renewable energy projects, including the RES itself, it may not always be clear to local planning authorities, applicants and other users how elements of this framework come together in any given case. We have therefore said we will ensure our planning policies for renewable energy are updated quickly to reflect the new RES when in place next year.