British Property Federation criticises proposals in a Tory MP’s private members’ bill claiming it would undermine its fight against climate change

The British Property Federation renewed its attack this week on micro-generation, claiming a bill put forward by Tory MP Michael Fallon calling for flexible Merton Rules for local authorities is misguided.

Fallon wants local authorities to set on-site renewable targets for new developments, reinforcing the Merton Rule.

Planner and developer concerns

The BPF fears the bill will be applied in an overly prescriptive way which would undermine the wider objectives of cutting emissions and making buildings greener. While local authorities have an important role to play as drivers of low carbon solutions, they must be prepared to support the use of all of the methods and technologies that are now available, rather than rely on a one size fits all solution for a problem which is not solved that easily.

Michael Chambers, director for planning and development, said: “The best way of ensuring developments use renewable energy is to find the most sustainable solution for each site. In many cases, on-site energy generation, as promoted in the bill, might make a significant contribution.

“However, this is just not practical in all cases, for instance, in dense urban situations where there is little or light wind. It does not make sense to insist that a fixed amount of energy comes from on-site sources when the more practical option in some cases would be to derive energy from other sustainable, decentralised sources, such as combined heat and power plant.”

A further setback

Fallon’s moves to re-instate overly prescriptive on-site targets have also been dealt a blow by a new study which has revealed homeowners are being misled over the effectiveness of domestic wind turbines. Figures in the study, carried out by environmental consultancy Encraft, indicated that it could take up to 15 years for a domestic wind turbine to generate enough ‘clean’ energy to compensate for the energy spent manufacturing it.

The study was supported by both the government and the British Wind Energy Association. The interim report can be read here.

The report has backed up property industry concerns about the major disparity between the effectiveness of on-site renewable energy across different areas of the country.

The BPF said it fully supports an active role for local authorities in ensuring new developments use renewable and decentralised energy sources. The property industry shares the government’s aspiration to make all new developments carbon neutral within a viable timescale and fully sympathises with the objectives of the Planning and Energy Bill.