Scotland sets new build carbon reduction targets

Housing and commercial developments in Scotland will have to produce a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions beyond the requirements of building regulations, the Scottish Executive has announced.1

The target is included in the Executive’s planning policy on renewable energy, published in March.

Local authorities should require all new developments with a floorspace of 500 square metres or more to make a 15% reduction beyond the 2007 building regulations’ CO2 emissions standard, it says.

This is 50% more demanding than the figure suggested in the draft issued for consultation last year (ENDS Report 378, p 43 ).

Developers will be able to meet the target using on-site renewables or energy-efficiency measures. They will only be exempt if "technical constraints exist". But they will still have to pay for equivalent carbon savings to be made elsewhere.

Local authorities do not have to feel limited by the target, the planning policy adds. "The development plan process should be used to consider whether local circumstances justify going beyond 15%, below the 500m2 threshold, or whether higher standards can be secured for particular developments," it says.

This explicit statement contrasts with the recently released English planning policy statement on climate change. This has been criticised for placing obstacles in the way of authorities wanting to set more demanding standards (ENDS Report 386, p 7 ).

The Executive’s approach to micro-renewables also differs from that in England and Wales, where many local authorities require developers to include on-site renewables in new build, but few look at energy-efficiency measures (ENDS Report 377, pp 12-13 ).

At the planning policy statement’s launch, First Minister Jack McConnell said the Executive will increase the 15% target "in the future", but would not set a timescale.

The Executive intends to set national targets for microgeneration and energy efficiency by the end of the year (see below).

The rest of the planning policy differs little from the draft.

"Planning authorities should use the development plan process to support and encourage the continued growth of all renewable technologies."

In particular, development plans should identify areas suitable for wind farms larger than 20 megawatts.

Planning authorities should encourage such wind farms, but must consider the impact they will have on the environment, communities and tourism. There should be a 2-kilometre buffer zone between turbines and towns and villages.

The Executive is also keen to see an increase in the use of renewable heat, especially "decentralised energy" where heat and power is generated close to sources of demand. Measures to promote this will appear in a renewable heat strategy to be published by the end of the year.

Greenpeace issued a report calling for Scotland to promote decentralised energy in March.2 It says Scotland’s carbon emissions would be 8% lower if its electricity generation was decentralised. The cost of electricity would also fall.