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Helping housholds generate green energy


More householders will be able to power and heat their own homes without needing planning permission under plans set to be unveiled this week by the Scottish Government.

While many homeowners can now install technologies including solar panels, ground and water source heat pumps without planning consent, anyone seeking to erect their own wind turbine or air source heat pump must first get permission.

A consultation, to be launched on Friday February 5, sets out circumstances where it would be suitable for people to install such technologies without having to make a planning application.

The proposals seek to remove barriers to householders who want to play their part in cutting emissions through use of small-scale micro generation technologies while safeguarding the quality of the environment.

Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"We are determined to help people cut energy bills and play their part in reducing emissions. By cutting red tape in the planning system we can make it easier for households to generate their own clean, green energy.

"Encouraging greater use of microgeneration by homeowners can provide an important boost to Scotland's renewables sector, potentially generating additional jobs in this world class green industry.

"We have already acted to make it possible for people to install certain technologies, but recognise we could go further. That's why, after researching the feasibility, we are now consulting on these ambitious new measures.

"This is not a vision of unrestricted development. But I believe our proposals strike the right balance in the best interests of Scotland."

Mike Thornton, Scottish Director of the Energy Saving Trust, said:

"Micro wind turbines and air source heat pumps have the potential to play a significant role in generating sustainable energy and contributing to Scotland's climate change targets. Permitted development rights for these technologies are an important step in reducing the barriers for their uptake. The current consultation makes progress in areas such as micro wind for rural properties. We look forward to the Scottish Government continuing the process of expanding permitted development rights."

Apart from in conservation areas or World Heritage sites, householders would be able to install the following technologies through permitted development rights (without planning permission) in certain circumstances:

Wind turbines on building - Permitted if height above roof ridge does not exceed 3m. (including blades) and subject to a maximum diameter of 2.2m or swept area of 3.8 sq.m - subject to meeting noise requirements with one turbine permitted per dwelling.

Free-standing wind turbines of up to 3.5m diameter or 9.6 sq m swept area - Permitted if height on mast (including blades) does not exceed 11.1m. and installed at a distance more than 100m from the edge of the neighbour's property. Subject to meeting noise requirements with one turbine permitted per dwelling.

Wind turbines (free-standing) of up to 2.2m diameter (or 3.8 sq m swept area) - permitted if height on mast (including blades) does not exceed 11.1m. Must be installed at more than 11.1m from the edge of the neighbour's property - subject to meeting noise requirements with one turbine permitted per dwelling.

Anemometer masts for wind trials - not to exceed 3m above roof if building-mounted or 11.1m free-standing. Subject to a 12-month limit and removal thereafter.

Air source heat pumps - permitted if not visible from road in a conservation area. Subject to vibration attenuation installation and meeting noise requirements.

The current 2009 Amendment Order does not contain permitted development rights (PDR) for micro-wind turbines or air-source heat pumps as it emerged from the 2008 consultation that further work was needed to explore the feasibility of introducing PDR for these technologies. Subsequently, research was commissioned in 2009 by the Scottish Government with the independent research findings being published in December 2009.

The Scottish Government launched an initial consultation on permitted development rights for air-source heat pumps and micro-wind turbines on January 15, 2010. That consultation will lead to a limited range of permitted development rights being presented to the Scottish Parliament by February 5, 2010.

Together the permitted development rights emerging from these consultations will form a robust package of additional rights for householders to install energy efficient or energy generating technology at home without the need to seek permitted development rights. The two stages of consultation enable the provisions of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and a European Directive on technical standards to be met.