GreenWeek Volume 24, November 22 | Page 5

News review Sustainable Community Sustainable Energy Barker orders “crack down” on inappropriate solar PV sites Energy Minister demands stricter adherence to planning guidelines By Chris Edwards E nergy Minister Greg Barker has written to every local authority in England and Wales warning them to give planning consent for solar PV installations only if they are “sensitively placed”. In the letters, Mr Barker spells out DECC’s ambitions for solar, which he describes as one of the “priority renewable energy technologies”, but says he is “determined to crack down” on planning approval that does not follow the latest guidelines. “Inappropriately sited solar PV is something that I take extremely seriously,” the Minister explained. “A full Solar PV Strategy will be published in spring 2014 but in the meantime we will continue to closely monitor solar PV to assess whether additional measures are needed to ensure that is deployed with the vision I have set out.” He highlighted Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) guidance published in July, which advised local planning of?cials of considerations, including: • The planning concerns of local communities should be properly heard if they are directly affected • The need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections • Heritage assets must be conserved in a manner appropriate to their signi?cance, including any views important to their setting Ironically, DCLG has recently concluded a consultation exercise to reform and relax planning rules for onshore oil and gas operations, including a proposal to remove the duty to notify people under whose land developers propose to drill. Sustainable Business OAK ACTION Guests of an Ambleside holiday park are being sent home with acorns as part of plans to counter the threat from the disease known as “sudden oak death”. Skelwith Fold Caravan Park hopes they will be planted by holidaymakers to provide healthy new saplings if the fungus-like invader hits Cumbria. The acorns are being gathered from some of the many mature oaks that populate the 130-acre wooded park. If the worst should happen, the park says it will offer guests who planted the acorns a free two-night stay if they return with the saplings. Hydropower provides energy to new £11.5m bus station By GreenWeek staff Rochdale’s new £11.5m bus station has become Europe’s ?rst transport interchange to have an integrated hydropower source, thanks to an innovative hydroelectric plant part-funded by the Ticket to Kyoto carbon reduction investment project. The scheme, part-funded by the Department for Transport and built by Kier Construction, is part of the wider £250m redevelopment of Rochdale town centre, which includes the construction of the new Metrolink line and a £100m new retail and leisure development. Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “I am delighted that we have completed this innovative and hugely signi?cant project that will provide a fantastic, modern gateway for the town centre and a European ?rst, thanks to its hydropower plant.” Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer said: “I am pleased the Department for Transport has been able to support this scheme. It will make bus travel more attractive in Rochdale, promoting growth and cutting carbon. Redevelopment of the existing bus station site is expected to bring some 1,500 new jobs into the town.” Sustainable Living Increase in Green Deal Plans still painfully slow By Jack Allen A total of 1,173 households had Green Deal Plans in progress at the end of October compared to 954 by the end of September, according to the latest report from DECC. However, there are still only 219 ‘live’ Green Deal Plans reported up to the end of October having installed at least one measure in each property. The total number of measures installed using Green Deal ?nance was 481. Boilers accounted for 37% of measures installed using Green Deal ?nance, photovoltaics were 16% of all measures, heating controls were 15% and solid wall insulation was 14%. The report released this week presents the latest statistics up to the end of October on the Green Deal (GD) and to the end of September on the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). It rev ?????????????)?????????????????????)????????????????????)?????