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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Call for 'green-home' cash bonus
Wind turbine
A typical domestic turbine system providing one to six kilowatts costs from 1,500
They can be rooftop-mounted or stand-alone
Rotor diameters range from 1-11m and stand-alone models from 6-12m in height
They usually require planning permission regardless of size
Visual impact and noise are the main concerns in planning
The government's low carbon buildings programme provides grants (maximum of 2,500)
Households should receive council tax rebates to encourage them to install solar panels and wind turbines, an independent think tank claims.

The New Local Government Network says planning laws should be relaxed to increase the take-up of green energy.

It also suggests local authorities could offer interest-free loans towards the cost of installation.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England says precious landscapes must be safeguarded.

Currently the government offers a grant of up to 30% towards the cost of installing wind turbines or solar panels.

It has also been consulting on whether they should be permitted without planning permission where the impact on neighbours is minimal.

'Cheaper approach'

But the New Local Government Network report, Finding the Energy, says ministers need to be bolder by allowing councils to be even less restrictive where there is public support.

It is calling for local councillors to be able to consult with residents on whether to reduce the amount of planning permission required to create eco-friendly homes.

Let local people decide and they can be the ones regulating it
Chris Leslie,
New Local Government Network

James Macgregor, author of the report, said: "Listening to the voices of local people in this way would ensure that residential amenity was protected as defined by residents.

"Council tax rebates and capital loans for householders that install domestic microgeneration equipment would incentivise local people to engage in the process."

Chris Leslie, director of the New Local Government Network, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that planning laws should be changed.

"The tests about whether, for instance, a wind turbine on somebody's house has a detrimental impact in a town should actually be left to the neighbourhood to decide themselves," he said.

"Let local people decide and they can be the ones regulating it, rather than a Whitehall piece of legislation that won't necessarily fit local circumstances."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says it has no objection to using the planning system to encourage domestic renewable energy generation.

A spokesman added: "Energy efficiency measures in existing buildings, and an approach that encourages development of energy sources by local communities as a whole, are likely to be a cheaper and more effective method of reducing carbon emissions."

Saving energy on the home front
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