The government has today unveiled plans designed to cut red tape and make it far easier for households to install microgeneration technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps.
Under the proposals people will no longer have to apply for planning permission to put microgeneration devices on their homes when there is little or no impact on neighbouring properties.
There are now an estimated 100,000 microgeneration installations across the UK, but adoption lags well behind that in countries such as Germany and many people keen on installing microgeneration technologies have complained that excessive red tape is proving unnecessarily costly and resulting in lengthy delays when trying to install the technology.
In a speech to the Green Alliance, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said that the aim of the new plan was to encourage greater take-up of microgeneration technologies, adding that such installations had the potential to "play an essential part in helping us meet a significant proportion of our future energy needs".
However, Kelly insisted some households would still have to apply for planning permissions, claiming that "it is important that we ensure that there are clear, common-sense safeguards on noise, siting and size and that the unique features of conservation areas are protected".
Under the proposals, which are open for consultation until June 27th, planning permission will still be required for installations in conservation areas or where developments could be easily seen from the road.
Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council welcomed the proposals claiming they could lead to increased demand for renewable energy microgeneration. "The current planning system says "no" unless there is a good reason to consider otherwise," he said. "In future it will say "yes" within properly considered, pre-defined limits. This will make a big difference to large numbers of customers wanting to take up microgeneration but put off today by bureaucracy and inconsistency."
With the new proposals only effecting domestic properties they are unlikely to have a direct impact on businesses. However, they could further increase the value and popularity of environmental subsidy schemes for employees, which offer staff grants or low interest loans to help them invest in low carbon technologies.
Reinsurance giant Swiss Re has been one of the firms to pioneer this reward model, offering staff up to £2,000 towards green investments such as solar panels and heat pumps, and with such technologies becoming easier to install they are likely to become an increasingly popular perk for employees at environmentally-conscious firms.
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