Planning and Energy Act 2008 receives Royal Assent

Dated:   

The Planning and Energy Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 13 November 2008. This Act should, however, not be confused with the Planning Bill currently before Parliament.

The Planning and Energy Act 2008 will enable local planning authorities in England and Wales to set requirements for energy use and energy efficiency in local plans.

This will give local authorities the power to include, policies that impose reasonable requirements for:
  • a proportion of energy used in development in their area to be energy from renewable sources in the locality of the development;
  • a proportion of energy used in development in their area to be low carbon energy from sources in the locality of the development; and
  • development in their area to comply with energy efficiency standards that exceed the energy requirements of building regulations

The Act encompassed the "Merton Rule" in Law which is a planning policy which requires commercial developments over a certain size to source at least 10% of their energy from on-site sources of renewable energy ranging from wind turbines and solar panels to heat pumps or biomass systems.

Some developers have expressed concern about this rule in the past and believe the requirements and policies that local authorities have power to impose under the Act must be "reasonable". The Act does not provide a definitive answer to what is classed as "reasonable" but does state that the policies must not be inconsistent with relevant national policies.

Ultimately, the "Merton Rule" is seen as providing a middle step towards tough new requirements under the building regulations, which will require "zero carbon" domestic buildings from 2016, and commercial buildings from 2019.

A copy of the Act can be downloaded here. (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/pdf/ukpga_20080021_en.pdf)


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