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Local Planning Authorities: Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Bill

ACE promotes new Bill to cut emissions in the housing sector

As latest figures show, CO2 emissions have risen consistently over the last four years. Energy efficiency is the simplest and most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

However the planning system does not make sufficient provisions for energy efficiency. Cambridge City Council was recently required to water down a planning policy requiring large developers to ‘provide evidence of how they have minimized energy consumption, maximized energy efficiency and considered the feasibility of using CHP systems’ as, to quote the government inspector, it was ‘unreasonable to the extent that it imposes more onerous requirements than the Building Regulations’.

Urgent action is needed to reduce carbon emissions. ACE is promoting the Local Planning Authorities: Energy and Energy Efficiency Bill that would enable local authorities to include in their local development energy efficiency standards higher than those required by Building Regulations, along with targets for generating energy from renewable and low carbon sources.
The Bill will allow local authorities to impose similar requirements when determining individual planning applications.

EDM 2693, tabled by Colin Challen in the last parliamentary session, received a total of 117 signatures. A new EDM tabled by Martin Caton in this Parliamentary session, with cross-party support, has received 264 signatures so far. The co-sponsors include Shadow Environment Minister Greg Barker, Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Andrew Stunell and former Environment Ministers Michael Meacher and Elliot Morley.

This Bill will also play a key role in promoting microgeneration and give it the boost it needs to move from its current niche market, to widespread expansion in the main energy market.
Martin Caton MP took up the Bill in the Private Members’ Ballot, which received its Second Reading Debate on the 19th January. Unfortunately the Bill was talked out by Government Minister Phil Woolas and was again objected to on 20 April when the Second Reading debate resumed. However, the campaign for the Bill is gathering momentum every day – and we believe that sustained pressure on DCLG can still persuade them to let the Bill proceed.

But, with time for Private Members’ Bills fast running out, Martin Caton proposed to give local authorities a similar power by means of an amendment to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill as a separate and additional move. 80 MPs supported the amendment, however it was unfortunately not accepted.

DCLG has recently launched two new consultations. The first is on a proposed new Planning Policy Statement on Planning and Climate Change; the second is on the Government’s plans for moving towards zero carbon development by 2016. Both consultations are underpinned by a new, voluntary Code for Sustainable Homes.

ACE is extremely concerned that the draft PPS will in fact place new restrictions on the powers of local planning authorities who wish to set high environmental standards in their local development plans. This runs completely counter to previous statements by Government Ministers that they wish to see the planning system used to achieve improvements in energy efficiency and the use of sustainable energy. It also makes a complete mockery of the Government’s stated objective of achieving zero carbon homes by 2016.

Furthermore, in the consultations the Government states explicitly that zero carbon homes will be delivered more effectively by relying on national standards rather than through encouraging early action by individual local authorities. For those councils – and there are many – who want to show real leadership in the fight against climate change, this will come as a bitter blow.

ACE has submitted a very robust response to the consultations , highlighting our grave concerns and the views in our response were shared by 53 Members of Parliament; 43 Local authorities; 22 Other organisations; 16 Trade Associations; 14 Energy Efficiency Advice Centres; 8 Other energy advice/delivery bodies; 7 HECA Forums (see ACE responses).

ACTION PLEASE!

Please write to your MP* (House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA), asking him/her to:

  • Sign EDM 471 – LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITIES: ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY  BILL
  • Write to Secretary of State Ruth Kelly, expressing their support for the Bill and urging her to let it proceed.
  • Sign-up to ACE’s response to the consultations.

And please do send us any responses you receive. Many thanks for your help. Your efforts make all the difference!

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