‘Merton Mark II’ needed say developers

The Merton Rule must be adapted to take account of other carbon-saving measures alongside on-site renewables if it becomes a national policy.

That was the message from developers at a debate hosted by the UK Green Building Council, in London, on Wednesday.

Developers said the policy created by the London Borough of Merton – which requires developers to use on-site renewable energy to reduce a new development’s carbon emissions by 10% – was too inflexible to work on all developments.

Elliot Lipton, managing director of developer First Base, said companies like his were keen to build low-carbon developments but could achieve this in a variety of ways that the Merton Rule does not take into consideration.

He said: “I don’t believe it is possible to achieve a one-size-fits-all policy because there are too many variables in developments.

“Our industry has the ability to deliver more than just on-site renewables.”

However, Philip Wolfe, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, argued the Merton Rule was not too prescriptive.

He said: “It only says 10% and it doesn’t say what kind of renewables.

“There is any number of options out there and don’t tell me that the vast majority of developments can’t achieve more than 10%.”

Speakers praised the concept of the Merton Rule, but many called for it to be amended if it is to be applied across the country.

The debate followed speculation in the industry that the Merton Rule is set to be included in the Government’s upcoming Planning Policy Statement (PPS) on climate change.

Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, announced at the debate that housing minister Yvette Cooper had stated in a letter last month that the rule will not be scrapped.

However, she did not confirm in the letter that it will definitely be included in the PPS.

Kate Martin

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