HC Deb 19 April 2000 vol 348 cc549-50W
Mr. Stunell

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 1 February 2000,Official Report, column 537W, what plans he has to set separate renewable energy generation targets for each of the UK standard regions; and if he will make a statement. [119692]

Mrs. Liddell

The Government Offices for the Regions are initiating work to prepare regional assessments and targets for renewable energy provision based upon, and where necessary updating, existing resource studies. On 9 February, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) published "Guidance on Preparing Regional Sustainable Development Frameworks". The guidance indicated that the Government hope that the frameworks will draw upon this work and elaborate a regional approach to renewable energy, including regional targets flowing from the assessments of each region's capacity to generate electricity from a range of different sources. The Government would like to see frameworks in place in all regions by the end of 2000.

The frameworks will work alongside Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) and Regional Development Agencies' Economic Strategies in promoting sustainable development. We are encouraging regional planning bodies to set targets in RPG for the structure plan and unitary development plan areas within the region consistent with the regional targets provided by the regional sustainable development frameworks. Advice on this will be set out in the final version of the revised "Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) Note 11: Regional Planning" to be published by DETR shortly.

Together with the national planning policy guidance in "PPP 22: Renewable Energy", RPG—as taken forward through structure plans and Part 1 unitary development plans—will provide a strategic framework for policies and proposals for renewable energy development in local plans, including the identification in those plans of suitable sites. This, in turn, will feed through to decisions on individual planning applications.

More positive planning at regional and local levels will contribute to greater public familiarity with, and acceptance of, prospective renewable energy developments. It remains important, however, for operators to prepare the ground with local authorities, environmental organisations and local people before formal planning applications are submitted and to develop proposals in consultation with them.