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Government bottles permitted development rights for small wind

Posted by David Hunt on 7 October 2011 at 3:38 am

Once again the government has shown its weakness when it comes to decisions on planning permission and the green agenda and particularly when it comes to small wind turbines.

To give credit where it is due, the recent addition of permitted development (PD) rights for the installation of domestic air source heat pumps (ASHP) was welcome, but far from contentious. Given that the government recently extolled the virtues of ASHP's (rightly so) it would have been somewhat of an own goal not to have extended the permitted development rights to install.

But, scheduled additions of permitted development rights for small wind turbines, to become active from 1st December 2011, are nothing more than a shameful waste of time and tax payers money.

Firstly, they give permissions (with understandable caveats) for building-mounted wind turbines. So what is wrong with that? Well, two things. One, building mounted turbines do not work, a fact born out by independent research by the Energy Saving Trust in its report Location, Location, Location. But most importantly there are no building-mounted wind turbines on the MCS approved list.

That means that no building-mounted wind turbines have passed MCS testing, and so no building-mounted wind turbines are eligible for feed-in tariffs, and there is no incentive to install them. So, permitted development rights have been given for turbines that do not exist!

I looked with more hope to the documents for 'stand-alone wind turbines', (I'm an eternal optimist!). But of course, where this government and planning laws generally are concerned, my optimism was ill founded.

They have given some permitted develoment rights to stand alone turbines ... which don't exist! A significant caveat is that the turbine at its highest point, ie the tip of its blade, must not exceed 11.1 metres.

There are currently nine (9) MCS approved small wind turbines. All of them exceed this height limit. Every one. 

So they have given permitted development rights that apply to precisely zero MCS approved turbines. How much did this exercise cost? How much time and effort? And for what, so Ministers can say they have given permitted rights to help the small scale wind industry? But they have not.

There are hundreds of wind turbine applications held up in planning, mostly for nonsensical reasons. Look at this most recent example of our own, a turbine passed for approval after 3 months in the planning process just to be declined at the whim of one 'anti-wind' councillor.  Needless to say we are going to appeal. 

But the important thing is that the Government had an opportunity to support the renewables and small wind industry, and they bottled it, big time!

About the author: David Hunt was Head of Commercial for Renewable Solutions UK Ltd. He no longer works in the renewable energy sector.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


tonygodwinComment left on: 24 January 2016 at 10:20 am

Are there now any turbines that can be installed as Permitted Development?

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Billy Comment left on: 22 October 2011 at 8:32 pm

I totally agree with the comments on this blog and share many of the same frustrations. It seems that the coalition want to be seen to do the right thing but in reality do little or nothing. They also seem ill advised on the technical issues.




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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 18 October 2011 at 10:16 pm

Here's a little exchange from Twitter, following my tweeting of the above blog:

YouGenUK: All nine MCS-accredited small wind turbines are too tall to count as permitted develpment What's the point...? #bonkers

dave_sowden: @YouGenUK The whole Permitted Development thing is a joke - most #ASHPs will have to be a minimum of 9 metres away from a neighbour.

gideonthediver: @dave_sowden @YouGenUK DEFRA v. jumpy about noise in particular. So 42dB better than no PD? Will this now push ASHP into lower dB products? 

YouGenUK: @gideonthediver @dave_sowden Noise level is important, and if the PD rules lead to quieter ASHPs that's good news

dave_sowden: @YouGenUK if noise level so restrictive there won't be any ASHPs - boilers allowed to be 48dB. Why stifle renewables? 42dB imposs to measure 

YouGenUK: @dave_sowden good point - should at very least be a level playing field

gideonthediver: @YouGenUK @dave_sowden Difference is that 48dB inside your own home is not 42dB at neighbours. This is about not affecting others! 

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