Planning permission rules on certain renewable energy installations relaxed

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, UK: A change in the planning law has come into force in England which has ruled that homeowners no longer need to get planning permission before fitting air source heat pumps to their home.

Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps, originally air source heat pumps were not classified as a permitted development. This was because of concerns about potential noise caused by the equipment, so before December 1 this year homeowners had to prove that it would not be an issue before receiving permission to install the equipment.

While, theoretically, solar panels, that is to say PVs and heating systems, and wind turbines no longer require planning permission from the local council I would suggest that no one try to install them without. Most councils still will go mad if you do so without planning permission. It does not seem to matter what central government decreed; the municipalities still apply their own rules even though, theoretically no illegal.

In order to, however, be able to be put in without planning consent the air source heat pump installation will have to comply with certain criteria. There has to be no wind turbine already installed at the property and there are also limitations on the size of the unit, with listed buildings and those in conservation areas and World Heritage Sites having to meet additional criteria.

This change in the law means that installing air source heat pumps can be easier than ever before, and as they can be installed in both houses and apartments this form of renewable energy is accessible to a larger audience that some other types.

To install an air source heat pump, a property requires an external space and this could be a garden, balcony or just an external wall so this form of renewable energy is particularly suited to homes in urban areas.

Homeowners that are considering installing renewable energy equipment should contact independent advisers for information on the various types available to find out the most suitable installation for their property.

Personally I would also suggest that one really carefully studies the law and then has a talk with the people at the local authority with regards to the installation that one is planning. Otherwise there could be tears.

© 2011