Guidance Note for the Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation in North Somerset Supplementary Planning Document



1. Background

2. Introduction

3. Site Selection

4. Site Detail

5. Consultation/Community Engagement

6. The Planning Application



1. Background

Renewable energy policy  

1.1 The EU Renewable Energy directive suggests that, if the UK is to meet its renewable energy target of 15% from renewable sources by 2020, all local authorities need to engage in identifying and approving appropriate renewable energy development.

 1.2 The Government is committed to increasing the proportion of energy we use from renewable sources and development of renewable energy resources on a commercial scale is a crucial element in meeting the Government’s commitments on reducing emissions and combating climate change. The Climate Change Act is the UKs legally binding commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, from a 1990 baseline. The Government expects each authority to contribute to meeting the targets and reducing overall demand for energy.

1.3 The National Planning Policy Framework(NPPF) sets out policy to support the development of renewable and low carbon energy, by stating that local planning authorities should recognise the responsibility on all communities to contribute to energy generation from these sources. It states that local authorities should: 

  • have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources;
  • design policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts;
  • consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources, and supporting infrastructure, where this would help secure the development of such sources;
  • support community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy, including developments outside such areas being taken forward through neighbourhood planning; and identify opportunities where development can draw its energy supply from decentralised supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers.

1.4 North Somerset Council is committed to reducing carbon emissions and supporting renewable and low carbon forms of energy generation. We are responsible for determining applications for onshore renewable energy schemes up to 50MW generation capacity. The planning Inspectorate will determine applications for installations with a generation capacity greater than the 50MW threshold. To appreciate the potential scale involved, a 5MW solar PV array if located on open land would require approximately 15ha of land to ground-mount the panels. 

1.5 This is the first part to the Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and will provide guidance for both developers proposing a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) array installation, and North Somerset Council in determining any application received relating to solar PV array developments. Once adopted, the SPD will have statutory weight and be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. 

1.6 This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) provides more detailed guidance to support Policy CS1: Addressing climate change and carbon reduction and Policy CS2: Delivering sustainable design and construction of the North Somerset Core Strategy.  The overall aim of this guidance is to provide policy to facilitate renewable and low carbon energy development, while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily. The specific considerations we require to be taken into consideration are set out in the emerging Sites and Policies DPD: Policy DM2. 

1.7 It is recognised that any renewable and low carbon energy development must be appropriately sited in North Somerset, and this Supplementary Planning Document provides information to help applicants select and design proposals that can be appropriately sited to the locality.