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- Local citizens could receive Council Tax rebates for installing microgeneration solar panels and wind turbines;
- Councils could consult local people on relaxing the planning regulations for installing microgeneration technology;
- Councils could offer interest-free loans for citizens to purchase microgeneration equipment.
A pamphlet published by the New Local Government Network has called for local planning laws to be relaxed to allow more people the option of installing eco-friendly energy sources to their homes. It has called for local councillors to be able to consult with local residents on whether to reduce the amount of planning permission required to install a microgeneration system. The pamphlet suggests that the forthcoming Planning Bill could be amended to reflect this new level of public involvement.
It also calls for councils to support residents wishing to invest in microgeneration technology, including offering interest-free loans to cover the cost of installation and giving a Council Tax rebate to homes with an eco-friendly energy supply. Currently the Government offers a grant of up to 30% to pay for the installation of micro-generation technology.
Central government could also give local authorities incentives to promote microgeneration through a cost-neutral performance grant that would reward those whom improve most quickly. This could form a part of the local government grants regime and be cost neutral for central government, where the cost of rewarding successful authorities is offset by a mild penalty for poor performance.
James Macgregor, author of the report, Finding the Energy, argues that:
“local authorities should be required to demonstrate that microgeneration plans were in the public interest. This would require neighbourhood level consultation and debate, giving citizens a powerful voice. Councillors would be at the heart of this process, supported by local officers. 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”.
“This system would empower local citizens and frontline representatives to take ownership of the impact of domestic microgeneration in their neighbourhoods”.