New National Policy Planning Framework Launched

March 2012: The Government has released its final version of its National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) which has gone someway from the initial draft in addressing concerns over the absence of guidance to planning authorities on supporting the development of low carbon and renewable initiatives (as highlighted in an earlier article). The new requirements as set out in the NPPF are welcome  – and copied below for information – but are far and away from the detailed guidance that was proposed to be introduced prior to the 2010 election on climate mitigation issues.

National Planning Policy Framework

Included within the 12 ‘core planning principles’ is:

  • support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate, … encourage the reuse of existing resources, including conversion of existing buildings, and encourage the use of renewable resources (for example, by the development of renewable energy);

93. Planning plays a key role in helping shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change, and supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

95. To support the move to a low carbon future, local planning authorities should:

  • plan for new development in locations and ways which reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings; and
  • when setting any local requirement for a building’s sustainability, do so in a way consistent with the Government’s zero carbon buildings policy and adopt nationally described standards.

96. In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should expect new development to:

  • comply with adopted Local Plan policies on local requirements for decentralised energy supply unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant, having regard to the type of development involved and its design, that this is not feasible or viable; and
  • take account of landform, layout, building orientation, massing and landscaping to minimise energy consumption.

97. To help increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy, local planning authorities should recognise the responsibility on all communities to contribute to energy generation from renewable or low carbon sources. They should:

  • have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources;
  • design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts;
  • consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources, and supporting infrastructure, where this would help secure the development of such sources;
  • support community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy, including developments outside such areas being taken forward through neighbourhood planning; and
  • identify opportunities where development can draw its energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon energy supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers.

98. When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should:

  • not require applicants for energy development to demonstrate the overall need for renewable or low carbon energy and also recognise that even small-scale projects provide a valuable contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • approve the application if its impacts are (or can be made) acceptable. Once suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy have been identified in plans, local planning authorities should also expect subsequent applications for commercial scale projects outside these areas to demonstrate that the proposed location meets the criteria used in identifying suitable areas.

156. Local planning authorities should set out the strategic priorities for the areain the Local Plan. This should include strategic policies to deliver:

  • the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, and the provision of minerals and energy (including heat);

162. Local planning authorities should work with other authorities and providers to:

  • assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure for transport, water supply,wastewater and its treatment, energy (including heat)
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