Policy ENV13: Renewable and low carbon energy

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy ENV13:  Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation

Development proposals for the generation of energy from renewable and low carbon resources will be supported and encouraged, where their impact is, or can be made, acceptable.

In determining applications for renewable and low carbon energy, and associated infrastructure, the following issues will be balanced:

  1. the contribution of the proposals, in light of the Council’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonising energy systems and improving air quality.
  2. the environmental, economic and social impacts of the scheme, together with any cumulative issues, including in respect of air quality, biodiversity and geological conservation, the loss of high grade agricultural land, flood risk, the historic environment including heritage assets, the landscape and visual appearance (including impacts upon the character, visual quality and setting of the National Landscape), traffic generation, pollution including noise, the local highway network and water quality. The council will take a strategic view of applications, to avoid clusters where inappropriate. 
  3. the impact on users and residents of the local area, including where relevant, shadow flicker, air quality, vibration and noise.
  4. the direct benefits to the area and local community.

Subject to complying with the above criteria, proposals will be permitted where they add renewable energy to existing buildings and structures, or where they repower or extend the life of an existing renewable energy site.

The policies map identifies areas that are suitable for solar and wind development (these will be identified post-Regulation 18).

In the areas identified as suitable for ground-mounted solar, proposals will be assessed against criteria a)-d) above and there will be an increased likelihood that they will be permitted. Outside these areas, proposals will be assessed against criteria a)-d) and applicants will need to clearly justify their proposals, including demonstrating that the site would meet the criteria that the council had used to identify suitable areas (these will be set out when suitable areas have been identified, post-Regulation 18).

Development involving one or more wind turbines will only be permitted in areas identified as suitable for wind energy on the policies map, in a neighbourhood plan or by other means identified in the NPPF (so long as this remains a requirement of national policy). In these areas, proposals will be assessed against criteria a)-d), having particular regard to the wind turbines’ scale and any landscape impacts. Proposals for wind must demonstrate that, following consultation, the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been appropriately addressed and therefore the proposals have their backing.

Proposals will need to demonstrate their links to the existing infrastructure, such as the road network or national grid.

The council will support neighbourhood planning groups and/or community-led energy project teams with identifying suitable locations for renewable and low carbon technologies that could be brought forward in neighbourhood plans or as part of a community-led energy scheme.

Significant weight will be given to community led energy schemes where evidence of community support can be demonstrated, with administrative and financial structures in place to deliver/manage the project and any income from it.

District heating networks

The council will support and encourage the development of heat networks, where suitable. Where a development site is close to a source of waste heat or an existing heat network, it will be required to demonstrate that it has considered all opportunities to connect to it.

Applications for development that would result in significant discharge of waste heat should be approved only where connection to an existing or new heat network, and / or co-location with development that will utilise the waste heat has been secured.

Battery storage

Proposals for battery storage will be supported where they comply with the criteria in this policy and other relevant Development Plan policies, and where an emergency plan has been provided for the facility to address the risk of fire.

Reinstatement of sites

Provision should be made for the removal of the facilities and reinstatement of the site should it cease to be operational.

7.93 Increasing the use of renewable and other low carbon energy technologies will be key to delivering net zero carbon in the borough. Policy ENV11 (Energy standards for new development) will increase the amount of renewable energy as part of new development, and this policy sets a framework to determine planning applications for all types of renewable and low-carbon technologies and infrastructure, including stand-alone sites and proposals for microgeneration. The policy balances the need for renewable and low carbon energy with protecting the interests of local communities and local historical, cultural and environmental assets.
7.94 Proposals for renewable energy installations will be expected to have particular regard to the landscape character of the local area and take account of any cumulative impacts. In particular any proposals that would affect the North Wessex Downs National Landscape should take account of the North Wessex Downs Management Plan, the Study of Landscape Sensitivities and Constraints to Wind Turbine Developments (2006), and the North Wessex Downs AONB Position Statement on Renewable Energy (2012).
7.95 The council will identify broad areas that may be suitable for wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) on the policies map after the Regulation 18 consultation. In the case of wind energy development, the National Planning Policy Framework (2023) advises that local planning authorities should only grant planning permission for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines if the site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan (or by various other means, as set out in the NPPF); and, following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been appropriately addressed and consequently has their support. Whether the proposal has the support of the affected local community is a planning judgment for the Local Planning Authority.
7.96 Planning can provide opportunities for, and encourage energy development which will produce waste heat, to be located close to existing or potential users of the heat. Planning can also help provide the new customers for the heat by encouraging development which could make use of the heat.
7.97 Although not a renewable energy, it is noted that there is a need for power reserves that can balance the grid by releasing power onto the grid at times when demand exceeds supply. New technologies are coming forward, but most commonly battery storage is used. These either store energy from the grid to release when supply is scarce or can be co-located with renewable energy infrastructure to release renewable power when production is otherwise unable to meet demand.
7.98 All proposals will be considered on their individual merits with regard to scale, location, technology type, long term and cumulative adverse impacts. Proposals for solar farms involving the best and most versatile agricultural land must be justified by compelling evidence’. Unacceptable impacts on quality of life, landscape, wildlife, heritage assets and amenity must be avoided. Long term impacts could include the deterioration of the landscape quality. To avoid such impacts the council will require that provision is made for the removal of the facilities and reinstatement of the site should it cease to be operational.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Decisions on planning applications.

The policy will be monitored against:

  • Annual information on planning decisions and the installation of renewable and low carbon renewable energy (number of installations, power generated).