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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Ministers to give power to people
A solar panel and wind turbine
Householders are set to be given the go-ahead on plans to install solar panels and miniature wind turbines.

The government wants to outlaw the need for planning applications from those who want to use DIY power generation on their homes.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper says it is "absurd" that people can put up satellite dishes, but have to wrestle with planning to install a solar panel.

Ministers also want to simplify applications for house extensions.

Size implications

The proposals come from a new report by the government's Householder Development Consents Review Steering Group.

It says applications for renewable technologies like solar water heating and small wind turbines should be allowed to go ahead without the need for a planning application.

It is absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house, but you should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale micro-generation
Yvette Cooper
Housing Minister

However, a spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government says ministers are still considering the size implications involved and the impact such technologies could have on neighbours.

Ms Cooper said: "It is absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house, but you should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale micro-generation which is no more obtrusive and can have a real impact on tackling climate change.

"We want far more micro-generation to be treated as permitted development and we also should be able to simplify the system for small developments such as extensions."

The number of household applications has more than doubled over the last 10 years, yet the majority of these are given approval with no objection at all.

Ministers want to cut the unnecessary costs and delays involved for both householders and local planning authorities by judging applications on impact rather than volume or size.

Trend setter?

The government is set to unveil detailed proposals in the autumn, with changes to the system likely to come into effect in 2007.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has already signalled his plans for a wind turbine on his London home while Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks wants to install his own mini-windmill.

The Tory leader is reported to be seeking a D400 StealthGen wind turbine, produced by the Nottingham-based Eclectic Energy, and costing 2,200 plus another 400 for installation.

The company's managing director, Peter Anderson, says there has been a huge surge in interest in these turbines, which have been designed specifically for unobtrusive, residential use.

The translucent rotor blades are 1.1m in length and Mr Anderson says they are very quiet when operating. An individual turbine should provide about a fifth of electricity needs - and it operates seamlessly with the mains supply.


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