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PLANNING BOOST FOR RENEWABLES

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New housing and other developments should generate at least ten per cent of their energy on site from renewable sou...
New housing and other developments should generate at least ten per cent of their energy on site from renewable sources.

Scotland is the first country in the UK to consider such a standard and the Executive's draft Planning Policy on Renewable Energy (SPP 6) also proposes that:

* local authorities designate areas which are suitable for wind farm applications and those which are not

* greater account is taken of issues such as natural heritage and the cumulative impacts of wind farms on communities

* local authorities support a diverse range of renewable energy technologies including encouraging the development of growing and new technologies

Communities minister Malcolm Chisholm said:

'Scotland has enormous natural renewable sources.

'We have a golden opportunity - uniquely in the UK - to harness this for the benefit of all our communities.

'Our target is to generate 40 per cent of Scotland's electricity from renewable sources by 2020, but I would like see us go beyond this and make further impact in reducing harmful carbon emissions.

'Planning has a vital role in ensuring that we get this right at the outset.

'We are currently undertaking root and branch modernisation of our planning system to speed up the decision-making process to serve the needs of a modern Scotland.

'The key to this will be local development plans with the active engagement of communities by local authorities and developers before applications are considered.

'A thriving renewables sector also has the potential to enhance Scotland's manufacturing capacity, to develop new indigenous industries, particularly in rural areas and to provide significant export opportunities.

'It is important that the planning system provides greater certainty to communities and the renewables industry.

'This policy sets out a framework for the future identifying areas where development is most likely to be supported and those areas which should be avoided.

'At the same time it also tackles issues about the cumulative impact of wind farms, and the potential harmful effect on local communities, tourism, scenery and historic buildings.

'We also want to encourage more householders to consider micro-renewable options for generating power on top of their home or in their back yard and how we can remove unnecessary red tape. We are positively considering how we use permitted development rights for microrenewables.

'Micro-renewables, like solar power and wind turbines and biomass, also offer potential for a range of residential, commercial and leisure developments.

'For new developments, we propose that a minimum of ten per cent of their energy needs are met by on-site renewables.

'Scotland is the first country in the UK to propose such a requirement - so we are keen to hear everybody's views on how and where it should apply.

'Micro-renewables also offer affordable and sustainable power for communities across Scotland - particularly in more remote areas.'

Mr Chisholm launched the draft policy at a sheltered housing development in Edinburgh which has installed a 'silent' rooftop wind turbine to power heating, lighting and other shared electric services.

Dunedin and Canmore Housing Association estimate this will bring significant savings in electricity bills at Fraser Court, near Haymarket.

Tenant James McInnes, whose flat is just below the turbine, said:

'I don't hear it and it's right outside my window. I think it's a good thing, particularly if it reduces the bills for the tenants. We should adopt more of these things, especially if it reduces climate change.'

The Scottish Executive has set a target that 40 per cent of electricity in Scotland will come from renewable sources by 2020.

Copies of the draft Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) 6: Renewable Energy are available here.

Grants from Communities Scotland, the Executive's housing and regeneration agency, and the Energy Savings Trust offset the cost of the turbine at Fraser Court. It is a Swift Turbine - the world's first silent horizontal axis rooftop wind turbine - manufactured by Renewable Devices based at the Bush Estate, Penicuik with the help of£45,000 Executive funding,

More details can be found at:

http:www.canmore-housing.org.uk

http:www.est.org.uk/myhome/generating/types/

www.scottishrenewables.com

The Executive has also commissioned research into the extent of permitted development rights, which remove the need to apply for planning permission, and is positively considering how we use permitted development rights for microrenewables.

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