Lib Dems Win Renewable Energy Vote!

This week at Lewes District Council’s Full Council meeting I had another go at getting renewable energy higher up the planning agenda when it comes to building new homes. Last  October I proposed that all new housing and commercial developments incorporated renewable energy. The proposal was lost by just one vote and so I have had wait 6 months in accordance with the rules of the council to put the motion again!

We won! Now the planning applicants (from the 1st Sept 2019) for housing & commercial development will have to work with the officers of the council to include a renewable energy scheme. Also the South Downs National Park are being encouraged to do the same.

Any form of renewable energy scheme can be proposed to provide all or some of the electrical power supply, heating and hot water.  Of course new homes and businesses could power their building from an external renewable energy source but in practical terms there are 3 main systems (see diagram above) which are readily available:

  1. Solar panels which could just provide electricity but also can be used to provide hot water and heating. photovoltaic (PV) cells used on solar panels can also be used in conjunction with power storage battery systems and for charging electric cars.
  2. Air source heating which can be used for both hot water and heating.
  3. Ground source heating which can be used for both hot water and heating. Often this is used for underfloor heating as well.

Despite the Liberal Democrat Green Deal being watered down since the days of the coalition government there are still grants available to help install the systems. Sadly, the solar panel grants will disappear in January under this present Conservative government. Nevertheless I believe it is still viable to install panels.

Why is renewable energy a good idea? All of these systems will reduce your electricity and/or your gas bill; but that’s not the main reason why we should introduce these systems. This is about the future for our children and grandchildren. By cutting down on power generation by gas, coal and oil we are reducing the amount of CO2 that is going into the atmosphere. That will help reduce global warming and pollution to the atmosphere. This is a serious matter the future of our planet way beyond the importance of Brexit. This is part of the way in which we ensure the survival of life on earth.

Below is a copy of my motion. I would have preferred to have brought this measure in earlier and to have the wording much tougher. However, I have had to soften the wording in order to gain agreement with the officers of the council. Still, the principle of the measure has been voted in and I hope it’s implemented with enthusiasm in policy documents which are currently being revised and should be implemented by the end of 2018.

For the record this is what my motion said:

“That from 1 September 2019 new housing and business/commercial planning applications to Lewes District Council should usually include the provision of a ‘renewable energy scheme’; and that any such scheme would not become binding on the applicant unless included by the local planning authority as a condition of any planning permission granted.

That officers:

–      Seek to incorporate requirements to this effect in local plan policy, in accordance with planning policy legislation, at the very earliest opportunity, and

–      Use best endeavours to ensure that the South Downs National Park Authority does likewise”.

(Sub-text to the motion: The applicant would propose a scheme and offer an analysis of its viability or otherwise. Council officers could then advise members as to whether any particular development is suitable for a renewable energy scheme thus leading to the conditioning of the planning permission in appropriate cases).


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