Energy is fundamental to our way of life. The threat of climate change and reduced UK oil, gas and coal production must be addressed. These challenges provide a focus for a shift towards becoming a low carbon economy, through energy efficiency and the development of renewable and sustainable energy sources.
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What do we do?
The Government has proposed that 10% of the UK's electricity requirements should be met from renewable sources by 2010, with an aspiration to reach 20% by 2020 (the UK currently generates about 3% of its electricity in this way). Against this backdrop, studies have been undertaken to assess the potential development of renewable energy in the South East region.
Planning for Renewable Energy in the South East
The Government’s Energy White Paper recognises that the land-use planning system can be seen as a barrier to the development of renewable energy schemes and therefore highlights reform of planning rules to unblock hurdles to renewable energy. In particular, a revised and more proactive Planning Policy Statement PPS22 on renewable energy was published in October 2004, together with a detailed companion guide published in December.
At present there is very little renewable energy development in the South East, and the region only generates around 1% of electricity from renewable sources, mostly from landfill gas. However, we are committed to the encouragement of a step-change in the level of development over the coming years. The South East has a target to generate 5.5% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. With the inclusion of planned offshore developments, the region is expected to exceed this target.
Targets are published in Regional Planning Guidance, which sets out a number of policies to guide local planning authorities towards a more proactive approach to the development of renewable energy schemes in local areas. These targets and policies have gone forward into the South East Plan which is currently (November 2006 – March 2007) under Examination in Public.
We are managing a programme of support to local planners and other decision makers to prepare them for a more proactive approach to the application of renewable developments in local areas around the South East. We are already beginning to see signs of an increase in planning approvals.