The Planning and Energy Act received Royal Assent on the 13 November and came into force on the same date. The Act allows local councils in England and Wales to set reasonable requirements in their development plan documents 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;
- development in their area to comply with energy-efficiency standards that exceed the energy requirements of building regulations.
Existing policies, based on those initially adopted by Merton London Borough Council, typically require 10% of any new building's energy needs to be met from renewable resources. Policies have also been adopted which require energy-efficiency standards above those set by Building Regulation requirements.
There had been some uncertainty as to the legitimacy of these policies and the Act now puts this beyond doubt. Policies meeting the requirements of the Act will however need to allow flexibility for renewable energy and low-carbon requirements to be supplied from the locality, rather than just the immediate development site.
The passing of the Act into legislation is likely to herald more frequent use of such policies for new housing and commercial developments. In anticipation, Wragge & Co's energy experts put together a guide last summer on the available technologies to assist developers with the regulatory and consent framework for on-site electricity generation.