Jeremy Hunt announced a range of changes to encourage renewable energy uptake in the government's Autumn Statement, including changing permitted development rights for heat pumps.
Planning restrictions for electric vehicle chargers and the government's intention to improve renewable energy companies access to the electric grid were also announced.
These changes outline the government's intention to ramp up renewable energy access and remove restrictions to energy efficient products such as air source heat pumps.
What changes have been made to heat pump PD rights?
Permitted development rights currently allow air source heat pumps to be installed without planning permission as long as it is at least one metre from the property boundary.
New permitted development rights rules will seek to remove these "blanket" restrictions for heat pumps and it is hoped will provide a further incentive for homeowners to install heat pumps.
This is in addition to an announcement last month that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) is increasing its grants for air source heat pumps to £7,500.
"These measures will reduce delays and capitalise on the UK’s world-leading approach to decarbonising the economy," it said in the Autumn Statement.
Other planning and PD changes
As well as encouraging heat pump installations the government are also looking to expand electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
This will be done by amending the National Planning Policy Framework to "remove unnecessary planning constraints" for EV chargers and "to ensure the planning system prioritises the rollout of EV charge points, including EV charging hubs" to increase the capacity to charge electric vehicles at home.
The Autumn Statement also included the introduction of premium planning services throughout England. These charged for premium services will aim to provide "guaranteed accelerated decision dates for major applications and fee refunds wherever these are not met". This aims to ensure a more efficient and reliable planning process for major projects.
Tim Foreman, Managing Director of Land and New Homes, Leaders Romans Group (LRG) commented: "The newly announced fees rebate for planning applications delayed by local authorities is welcome as a means of speeding up the process, but I wonder how local authorities will comply given their resourcing issues and whether a quick determination may be a negative determination, which would do little to boost housing."
Consultations will also take place to change permitted development rights to allow any house to be converted into two flats as long as "the exterior remains unaffected".
Improve 'clean energy businesses' access to the grid
The government has announced a "joint action plan" with Ofgem to drastically reduce the time it takes clean energy companies to connect to the electricity grid.
It was acknowledged that current long wait times are a problem because they slow down investments in clean energy, which is important for the UK's energy security.
The government is taking steps to reform the grid connection process, making it faster and freeing up a lot of capacity, including freeing up over 100GW of capacity so that energy companies can connect sooner.
This will help most projects connect without waiting and reduce the overall connection time for viable projects from five years to just six months, and it is hoped this will increase investment and access to renewable energy products such as heat pumps.
Jeremy Hunt in his Autumn statement speech stated: "It is also taking too long for clean energy businesses to access the electricity grid. So, after talking to businesses such as National Grid, Octopus Energy and SSE, we today publish our full response to the Winser review and Connections Action Plan.
"These measures will cut grid access delays by 90% and offer up to £10,000 off electricity bills over 10 years for those living closest to new transmission infrastructure."
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.