Previous post:

Next post:

The future’s in low carbon heat

by Mel Starrs on April 2, 2012

in Strategies & Consultations, Zero Carbon

Via Andrew Lainton’s excellent planning blog (a must read ifyou’re interested in the NPPF) comes the advice for inspectors (pdf) with regards to NPPF – two paragraphs of interest to me:

    • Provide more flexibility regarding manner in which local planning authorities meet local requirements for decentralised energy supply.
    • Encouragement for local planning authorities to map areas for commercial scale renewable and low carbon energy development opportunity, and then to apply these criteria to other applications.

This comes hot on the heels of DECC’s newly released “The future of heating: A strategic framework for low carbon heat“.

We have until 24 May 2012 to comment on the strategy, but low carbon heat looks to be the theme of the next few years (with any luck usurping sometimes counter-productive Merton Rules – more to follow on that).

This is reinforced by UKGBC’s advice to: “help Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and the new neighbourhood forums to understand sustainability issues, to ensure they achieve a balance between requiring robust sustainability standards but also ensuring development remains viable” – their energy related questions are:

What is the potential for maximising renewable and low and zero carbon (LZC) energy production in the local area?
To what extent are renewable and LZC energy technologies already exploited in the local area and what is the potential to increase this through new development?
What are the opportunities for decentralised renewable and LZC energy networks in the local area?
Can the viability of decentralised renewable and LZC energy networks be improved by future-proofing new development by making it ready to join the network at a later date?
What targets to encourage the use of renewable and LZC technologies and energy networks are viable for new development based on the existing and proposed energy infrastructure and local conditions?
What opportunities exist to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand at a community and site level through new development and refurbishment of the existing built environment?
What potential is there to develop an energy policy in conjunction with adjoining authorities to benefit from economies of scale and ensure the future viability of the strategy?

Buzzword of the year has to go to ‘viability’ – I’m still not clear who has a duty to demonstrate viability of targets – the planners or the developers? Like much of the NPPF, it’ll take a while for these things to become clear. UKGBC doesn’t specifically mention low carbon heat, but it is implied in the idea of decentralised local energy networks.

Of course, we’re still waiting for the zero carbon definition, but with RHI being put back a year and RHPP extended for another year, I’m suspecting that all the ducks are lining up and a definition will eventually bring all these threads (including Part L 2013 and any fallout from the Harman interim findings with regards to CSH) together. Perhaps by the autumn?

It worries me slightly that there seems to be little urgency at the minute, but perhaps this leisurely pace will ensure a more robust solution in the long term. A cynic could point out that there is of course another election between now and the deadline of 2016, but I’m feeling in a glass half full mood today, so I’ll give the benefit of the doubt.