Limited permitted development rights for micro-wind

Micro-wind turbines will finally be made permitted developments - avoiding the need for planning permission - but only for detached homes, the Communities Department (DCLG) has announced. The Scottish government is consulting on similar proposals.

DCLG announced the move in March when an amendment to the existing permitted development order went before parliament.1 This makes other microrenewables, such as solar panels, permitted developments that do not require planning permission if they meet size requirements (ENDS Report 387, p 45 ). The amended Order comes into force on 6 April.

Last December, the government said micro-wind turbines and air-source heat pumps would not be made permitted developments until the sector developed noise and vibration standards for them (ENDS Report 395, p 42 ).

These have now been set up under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, ensuring that properties near turbines are not exposed to noise above 45 decibels. The scheme launched in February.

Micro-wind turbines that meet the standards will be permitted developments once DCLG has received approval from the European Commission for referencing the certification scheme in regulations. This is expected "within a few months".

However, turbines will not be permitted developments on semi-detached or terraced houses "until further work has been carried out… on potential nuisance to neighbours from structure-borne noise and vibration", DCLG says. This work will be undertaken by DEFRA with the industry.

In contrast to DCLG’s plan, micro-wind turbines will only be permitted developments in Scotland if they are "at least 100 metres from the nearest residential property", according to a Scottish Government consultation on extending such rights.2 The consultation refers to the noise standards developed in England, but says until they are shown to overcome noise concerns the 100m limit is the easiest way forward. It recognises that this means turbines in "built-up areas" will still require planning permission. The distance criteria will also apply to air-source heat pumps.

The consultation includes size limits for solar photo-voltaic panels and hot water installations similar to those in England and Wales. Planning applications will still be required for micro-renewables in World Heritage Sites and other conservation areas. The consultation runs until 12 May.

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