Planning rules for microgeneration could be ditched

Rules requiring homeowners to get planning permission to install their own solar panels, wind turbines or ground source heat pumps could be scrapped in Scotland.

The Scottish Executive has launched a consultation on reforms to the planning system which it hopes will increase renewable energy generation and cut emissions.

Most people who want to install microgeneration equipment on their homes currently have to apply to their local planning authority for consent, but under the new proposals, permission may be granted automatically.

However, the technology would still be subject to certain restrictions and could be banned altogether in conservation areas.

The consultation, which will run for ten weeks, follows the announcement that ministers plan to introduce a target to reduce emissions by 80% in its Climate Change Bill.

Climate change minister Stewart Stevenson said: “The cost and time required to get planning consent can often be a disincentive to householders seeking to install microgeneration technologies.

“We are seeking to strike the right balance between planning considerations and the wider environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions.”

Renewable energy forum Scottish Renewables welcomed the intent behind the proposals, but said after consultation with its members and talks with the Scottish Executive, it may suggest changes to some of the details, such as a proposal to situate wind turbines at least 100m away from nearby properties.

Chief executive Jason Ormiston told edie: “On a first look at this, there’s a cautious approach being taken, which means we probably have a bit of work to do to provide the Scottish Executive with the evidence they need.

“But in general we welcome the whole principle of making it easier to install devices.”

Mr Ormiston also emphasised the importance of a co-ordinated approach with England to avoid leaving one country at a disadvantage if it adopts stricter planning rules.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie