Friends of the Earth has slammed government plans to tackle climate change through micro-generation in development plans as only a modest step in the right direction.
In a speech, the housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper says many local authorities are now adopting new requirements in their plans for on-site renewable energy in new developments.
She adds that the government is urging all local authorities to do the same and will include this request in the new planning policy guidance on climate change due out later this year.
However, Friends of the Earth says its is disappointed that the government did not go further.
It believes it should have insisted rather than urged local authorities to include on-site renewable energy measures in their local development plans.
It would like the government to specify that all new housing developments should supply the majority of their energy needs through micro-generation schemes and other renewable sources and all new development should eventually be zero carbon developments.
At the same time, Friends of the Earth says micro-generation systems, such as solar panels, small-wind turbines and renewable heating, have a key role to play in tackling climate change.
They have the potential to provide over 100% of a building’s energy needs with clean, renewable energy.
And any surplus energy could be sold into the national grid. More than half of UK carbon dioxide emissions, the main climate changing gas, come from buildings.
Hugh Ellis, planning coordinator at Friends of the Earth, says: “Micro-generation has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change.
Over half of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings. However, small-scale renewable energy systems, such as solar panels and heat pumps, could potentially supply the energy needs of every home in Britain.
“Today’s announcement is a small step in the right direction.
But the government should insist that every new development meets the highest environmental standards, and that most of their energy needs are met through micro-generation systems.
It’s time the government got serious about tackling climate change.”
Friends of the Earth is also calling on the government to back a new climate change law – called for by Friends of the Earth’s The Big Ask campaign – obliging successive government’s to make annual reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
A new climate change law already has the backing of most MPs and 75% of the public.