If the government does intend to drop the “Merton rule” that 10% of energy in new developments come from renewable sources (31 August, page 24), the rationale for the move would be that a single nationwide policy is better than different policies in different areas.
The problem with this is the damage that a back pedal could do. The renewable energy sector is fragile and removing a policy that has been the strongest driver behind its recent development cannot be good.
Outlawing the Merton rule will also send a troubling message regarding the government’s attitude to innovation. Innovation is needed to bring in widespread adoption of renewable energy – not just in technology, but in business models and policy. This will be most effective at the local level, as it has the potential to engage consumers and to tackle the Nimby barrier.
We are at a turning point. We can either adopt only innovations that fit with our business models or properly innovate by setting innovative policies and adapting business models to fit these. Those who champion the first option argue that policy innovation should be limited to the top level. This approach will ensure the UK fails to achieve efficient solutions – it rules out at least two-thirds of the scope for innovation.
At the local level, the message will be that behaviour like Merton council’s is undesirable and that the government does not welcome or encourage innovation. Is a temporary easing of things for the robust construction sector really worth this?
Jack Jenkins, Hurley Palmer Flatt