Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Solar Services in Reading and the Merton Rule

I’ve found a couple of businesses in Reading specialising in fitting Solar Panels.

I’ve put their websites in my list on the right:

With fuel prices going up, it’s getting more economic to fit solar panels for hot water and generating electricity. If you have a South facing roof that isn’t overshadowed, think about getting your house ready for the future. And reduce your emissions now.

I've been looking at roofs in Reading to see how many have any sort of solar device, and I've only seen two. One in Caversham, the other in Calcott. There must be more, do send me pictures or locations.

To encourage poeple to invest in renewables, some councils are employing the Merton Rule. The Merton Rule is named after the first Council to actively promote renewables by making large developments have a percentage energy from that source. According to Reading Council, Wokingham and West Berkshire have it included in their Local Development Framework(or SPD), but its not yet fully adopted. Many councils have chosen 10% renewables, some have gone for 15%. Kirklees Council have proposed that by 2011, 30% of energy consumption in every one of its new buildings is from renewable sources.

Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper, Kirklees Council cabinet member for housing and property, said: "We are effectively setting our own version of the building regulations for renewable energy in Kirklees and this will impact on every residential home, every children's centre and every school we build. "This policy ensures a new high standard for buildings in the future and that future is green," he added. Mr Cooper also mentioned that the council took into account the expected increases in the price of gas and oil and with new buildings needing to last for at least 50 years, renewable energy will save costs in the long-term.

The size of development where this applies is defined as: where 10 or more are to be constructed (or if number not given, area is more than 0.5 hectares).
For all other uses; where the floor space will be 1000sq metres or more (or site is 1 hectare or more).

But housing minister Yvette Cooper, who last year wanted all local authorities to adopt a Merton rule, will soon publish a new draft planning policy statement which outlines the abolition of the rule. The Royal Institute of British Architects yesterday attacked the government's apparent U-turn on the Merton Rule. RIBA president Jack Pringle said: "The RIBA strongly believes that local authorities should be free to demand higher building standards than those set nationally. "Individual local authorities can play a huge role in driving innovation and can themselves become beacons of sustainability. If the reports are true and this ability will be lost, that will be detrimental to the government's goal of reducing carbon emissions from buildings." On the other side of the argument is the House Builders Federation. Ms Cooper has been heavily lobbied by the group, which argues for a national, rather than local, strategy for the government's plan for new homes to be zero carbon from 2016.

Articles like are telling people not to bother with renewables, but they spin the storey. Energy prices used in the calculation are too low, and they assume that when you sell the house there will be no value added. The whole point of HIPs was to encourage this, so that’s another government failure. But even without this, buyers will see that a well insulated home with some solar features will save them money.

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