This guidance provides advice on the planning issues associated with the development of renewable energy. It will be kept under review and should be read alongside other planning practice guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework. This guidance is being published in advance of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s beta planning practice guidance web-based resource, and will be integrated into this web-based resource later in the year.
Government planning practice guidance can be a material consideration in planning decisions and should generally be followed unless there are clear reasons not to.
Why is Planning for Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Important?
Increasing the amount of energy from renewable and low carbon technologies will help to make sure the UK has a secure energy supply, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow down climate change and stimulate investment in new jobs and businesses. Planning has an important role in the delivery of new renewable and low carbon energy infrastructure in locations where the local environmental impact is acceptable.
Are All Energy Developments Handled by the Local Planning Authority?
Local planning authorities are responsible for renewable and low carbon energy development of 50 megawatts or less installed capacity (under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990). Renewable and low carbon development over 50 megawatts capacity will be considered by the Secretary of State for Energy1, under the Planning Act 2008, and the local planning authority will be a statutory consultee. Microgeneration is often permitted development and may not require an application for planning permission.
How Can Local Planning Authorities Develop A Positive Strategy to Promote the Delivery of Renewable and Low Carbon Energy?
The National Planning Policy Framework explains that all communities have a responsibility to help increase the use and supply of green energy, but this does not mean that the need for renewable energy automatically overrides environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities. As with other types of development, it is important that the planning concerns of local communities are properly heard in matters that directly affect them.
Local and neighbourhood plans are the key to delivering development that has the backing of local communities.
In considering that potential, the matters local planning authorities should think about include:
- the range of technologies that could be accommodated and the policies needed to encourage their development in the right places.
- the costs of many renewable energy technologies are falling, potentially increasing their attractiveness and the number of proposals.
- different technologies have different impacts and the impacts can vary by place.
- the UK has legal commitments to cut greenhouse gases and meet increased energy demand from renewable sources. Whilst local authorities should design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development, there is no quota which the Local Plan has to deliver.