Draft PPS 18: Renewable Energy
1.1 The Government has accepted that long-term climate change is the single biggest environmental threat facing the planet. Climate change refers to the variation in the Earth's global climate or in regional climates over time through the build up of greenhouse gases1 in the atmosphere that effect changes in rainfall patterns, increase flood risk, sea levels, habitat loss, heat stress, and potential droughts.
1.2 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report describes progress in understanding of human and natural drivers of climate change. The IPPC report acknowledges that global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased markedly as a result of human activity, with global increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration due primarily to the use of fossil fuels. The report further suggests that 30 per cent of the projected CO2 emissions from residential and commercial buildings could be avoided through greater use of Passive Solar Design and better insulation as well as high-efficiency lighting, appliances and heating/cooling systems.
1.3 The main source of CO2 emissions in the UK comes from the burning of fossil fuels in power stations. To help lessen the effects of climate change, the Government has committed to reducing the level of greenhouse gases emitted. Emphasis is being given to energy generation from sources that emit low or even zero levels of greenhouse gases, such as renewable energy, and through using energy as efficiently as possible.
1.4 Renewable energy comes from energy sources that are continuously replenished by nature. The main sources of renewable energy are the wind, the sun (solar energy), moving water (hydropower), heat extracted from the air, ground and water (geothermal energy), and biomass (wood, biodegradable waste and energy crops) – further information on current renewable energy technologies is set out in Annex 1.
1.5 An increase in renewable electricity and heat generation as a means of reducing greenhouse gases and in particular CO2 forms an important part of Northern Ireland's efforts to tackle climate change. More renewables can also provide greater diversity in our energy mix. Using indigenous renewable sources of energy will reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and will bring diversity and security of supply to the Region’s energy infrastructure.
1.6 As well as assisting in countering the effects of climate change, using renewable energy will also help to reduce other forms of environmental and social damage arising from the use of fossil fuels. For example, it will help reduce the impact of acid rain on water and forest ecosystems, and reduce localised air pollution and its subsequent health impacts.
1.7 The varied nature of renewable energy technologies presents the potential to develop an indigenous renewable energy industry and provides a range of opportunities to support the local economy including:
- direct and indirect employment opportunities during the construction and operational phases;
- revenue to the owners of the land on which they are built;
- employment in the manufacture of components and services
- opportunities for rural diversification, the alternative agricultural use of land and employment in the production of biomass crops;
- a beneficial route for the utilisation of residues and wastes that might otherwise be difficult or expensive to dispose of; and
- an improved source of electricity in remote locations.
1.8 The primary aim of this Planning Policy Statement (PPS) is to encourage and facilitate the provision of renewable energy and heat generating facilities in appropriate locations within the built and natural environment. The PPS also promotes greater application of the principles of Passive Solar Design in the design, siting and layout of new development.
1 Atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that regulate the Earth’s atmospheric temperature by absorbing infrared radiation.