Draft Core Strategy January 2011

Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

Renewable Energy Development

8.11 All the main land-based renewable energy technologies appear, in principle, to be appropriate for West Oxfordshire. (For example, small-scale hydro, heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar panels.) Their potential local environmental, economic and community benefits will be important considerations.

8.12 When assessing applications for renewable/low carbon energy regard will be given to scale, design, location, technology type and cumulative impact. The aim will be to minimise adverse impacts on landscape, biodiversity, heritage assets, highways and residential amenity.

8.13 In the Cotswolds AONB small scale renewable energy development is encouraged both by the Council and by the Cotswolds Conservation Board. As a result of a specific assessment of wind development in the Cotswolds AONB, the Board's definition of 'small scale' is the one that will be used in West Oxfordshire: ie acceptable turbines serving individual businesses and communities are likely to be in the 2-50 kW range of capacity with overall heights to tip of, approximately, 15-20m.

Policy CS19 - Renewable and low carbon energy development

In principle, renewable and low-carbon energy developments will be supported, especially community based wind schemes, solar clubs and the use of biomass.

Renewable or low-carbon energy development should be located and designed to minimise any adverse impacts. In assessing proposals, consideration will be given to the following local issues:

  • impacts on the landscape
  • impacts on biodiversity
  • opportunities for environmental enhancement
  • impacts on the historic environment
  • impacts on residential amenity
  • impacts on aviation activities
  • impacts on fuel/energy security
  • highway safety
  • potential benefits to host communities (including job creation and income generation).
Renewable energy as part of new development

8.14 Given the limited opportunities in West Oxfordshire for large stand-alone renewable energy schemes, there is a strong need to maximise the opportunities to incorporate decentralised and renewable or low carbon energy generation within non-energy developments. Planned tightening of the Building Regulations, with rising energy efficiency and carbon standards, means new development will be moving towards zero carbon from 2016. In the meantime, on larger developments, where the density, layout and mix of uses, plus economies of scale, generally make decentralised and renewable or low-carbon sources more feasible and viable, the approach adopted and justified for this area through the South East Plan will be used: ie 10% of the predicted energy demand for a proposed development is to be secured from decentralised and renewable or low carbon sources.

8.15 A study into renewable energy in West Oxfordshire (the CAG Study) highlighted the potential benefits of encouraging greater use of medium and large scale decentralised energy systems to reduce local CO2 emissions. Such systems can either provide heat and power (CHP) or just heat (DH), the infrastructure for which can be installed at the same time as other services (water and drainage systems, etc), meaning new developments offer an ideal opportunity for such systems. With stretching electricity and heat targets, CHP/DH schemes will become increasingly important in delivering renewable and low carbon energy in the District, especially within the strategic development sites identified in this Core Strategy. A feasibility assessment will be required for such sites (through the Master Planning/SPD process). Given the wide local benefits, the use of biomass CHP/DH will, in particular, need to be investigated.

Policy CS20 - Development design for renewable energy

New developments of 10 or more dwellings or 1000m2 of non-residential floorspace should secure at least 10% of their energy from decentralised and renewable or low-carbon sources (including the use of Combined Heat and Power or District Heating where appropriate) unless, having regard to the type of development involved and its design, this is not feasible or viable.

The use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and District Heating (DH), especially biomass fuelled, will be encouraged in all developments.

A feasibility assessment for CHP/DH, including consideration of the use of local wood fuel biomass, will be required for:

  • proposals on strategic development sites
  • all non-domestic developments above 1000m2 floorspace
  • all residential developments in off-gas areas for 50 dwellings or more.

Key evidence

  • South East Plan evidence
  • CAG Study For CHP/DH to be viable there are three 'rules of thumb', based on dwelling density, scale of development and proximity of complementary heat load (particularly those with high heat loads such as schools, hospitals or businesses).
  • West Oxfordshire Climate Change Policy and Action Plan
  • West Oxfordshire Sustainable Community Strategy