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Policy update - The Merton Rule

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The much-talked about Merton Rule is a local planning policy which demands that 10 per cent of all energy in major new developments comes from on-site renewable sources

The much-talked about Merton Rule is a local planning policy which demands that 10 per cent of all energy in major new developments comes from on-site renewable sources, to reduce carbon emissions.

London’s Merton Borough Council pioneered the rules, hence the name, and became the first authority to formally adopt these energy targets by incorporating them into its Unitary Development Plan. The move followed the publication of Planning Policy Statement 22 (PPS 22) of the Planning Guidance on Renewable Energy by then deputy prime minister John Prescott in 2004.

In Merton, only schemes providing more than 1,000m2 of commercial space or, in the case of residential developments, 10 new homes, are subject to the rules. Over 50 other councils have followed suit and concern has arisen about the need to adopt a uniform national standard.

However, in recent months debate has raged about whether the rule would be amended or even scrapped. Those calling for its abolition appear to have lost. Yet housing minister Yvette Cooper did suggest there could be more flexibility in future for authorities in terms of the amount of renewables demanded, and whether off-site production could be taken into account.

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