From: Reuters
Published March 13, 2008 07:17 PM

UK gives homeowners green light for solar power

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters Life!) - Homeowners across Britain will find it easier to make their own renewable power at home from April as part of a government push to cut carbon emissions from the residential sector.

From April 6, all homeowners in Britain will be free to install microgeneration equipment like solar panels without getting planning permission for them, as the government tries to cut climate warming gases emitted from coal and gas fired power plants in order to supply electricity.

"We want to make it easier to help people reduce their carbon footprint. Technology like solar panels can make a real difference, but homeowners can be put off by the time and expense of getting planning permission," planning minister Caroline Flint said.

"We think it is right that people have more freedom to make these changes providing it has no impact on others," she said in a statement.

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Energy used to heat and supply electricity to homes makes up about 27 percent of the UK's carbon emissions, equal to around 40 million tonnes, according to the government.

Homeowners interested in installing microgeneration systems are often put off by the planning permission system and the government is keen to clear away obstacles for renewable energy as it chases ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets.

The government still needs clearance from the European Commission before it can allow free-standing and building-mounted wind turbines on detached houses without planning permission but expects to get the all clear this year.

Planning problems and public opposition to commercial wind farms in Britain have severely limited the expansion of renewable energy, frustrating government efforts to get 15 percent of all of its energy supply from renewables by 2020.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren)

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