Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Chope: I certainly would not want to rehearse any arguments again, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hope that, having listened to our debate, the Minister will explain the difference between the provisions of what he described as technical amendments and the much higher limits in clause 16. I hope that he will engage in constructive debate on the importance of not alarming the citizens of this country with the prospect of much larger generating units being sited in back gardens or elsewhere.

This has been a useful debate. I am glad that last week the Minister accepted that there was a defect in the Bill, which led to the introduction of Government amendment No. 80.When the Minister responds, I hope that he will address my concern that the definition of greenhouse gas emissions in the context of dynamic demand technologies in clause 15, which is the subject of amendment No. 80, is consequential on Government amendment No. 50, which we debated last week. That introduced a definition of greenhouse gas in clause 23 covering any of the six gases specified in the Kyoto protocol. Surely technology that increases one greenhouse gas but reduces another is not necessarily good technology. Do we not want the impact of technology on each greenhouse gas to be measured? My fear—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—is that
17 Mar 2006 : Column 1727
amendment No. 80 would allow the Government to look at the overall impact on all six gases, rather than measuring the impact on each of the greenhouse gases separately. You will be pleased to know, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I do not propose to engage again in the debate about whether water vapour is a greenhouse gas.

11 am

Malcolm Wicks: With the leave of the House, I shall reply to one of the points that emerged in the latter stages of the discussion. I will not go into the sticky business of Women's Institute jam because we are focusing on global warming and the planet's chance to have jam tomorrow, so let us stick with that.

Questions were raised about the differences in the definitions of microgeneration and community schemes. Perhaps I can help the House. Microgeneration is for households and community schemes—for example, solar panels on church halls, or the wind turbine that I saw on the building at the Daventry country park when I was asked to visit it—whereas the community energy schemes referred to in clause 16 are intended to cover both small scale community installations that could be classed as microgeneration, and larger schemes such as district heating.

Mr. Forth: Can the Minister say a little more about what a large scheme might be in this context? We are talking about microgeneration, which would be understood by the layman in a particular way. Now that the Minister has spoken of a large scheme in the context of community projects, could he give the House some idea of the scale? What sort of size of building or installation does he have in mind when he talks about a large scheme?

Malcolm Wicks: The technology would determine which section applied to the scheme. It could be a new school. I was scheduled today to open the new Ashburton school in Croydon in my borough—the Ashburton learning village, which has extensive photovoltaics. I rather regret in some respects that I cannot undertake my duties in my own borough today because of the delays that have been caused. The scheme could be a new library, a big new community centre, a new church or church hall or a sports hall. I hope the House understands that those are the kind of developments that we are trying to cover.

Mr. Forth: It is important that we have this dialogue. Is the Minister saying that he believes that a photovoltaic installation, even on the roof of a school, would contribute to community energy in the sense in which I understand the Bill to refer to it?

Malcolm Wicks: I was talking about the range of possibilities. Some schemes could involve mini combined heat and power installations, for example. There is a range of heat technologies. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has had a chance to explore some of them in his constituency, just as I hoped to find out more
17 Mar 2006 : Column 1728
today if I had been able to put principle into practice by helping to open the Ashburton learning village. I hope I have provided clarification.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8

Functions of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority in Relation to Microgeneration

Amendment made: No. 40, in page 6, leave out lines 13 and 14 and insert

'the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006.".'.—[Malcolm Wicks.]

Mr. Chope: I beg to move amendment No. 32, in page 6, line 15, leave out clause 9.

Madam Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 13, in page 6, line 25 [Clause 9], at end insert—

'(2A)   In carrying out the review, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of—

(a)   safeguarding conservation areas;

(b)   protecting visual amenity;

(c)   reducing noise; and

(d)   avoiding risks to health and safety.'.

No. 70, in page 6, line 25 [Clause 9], at end insert—

'(2A)   In carrying out the review, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a)   such body or bodies as appear to him to be representative of local authorities;

(b)   the Royal Institute of British Architects;

(c)   the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors;

(d)   the Campaign to Protect Rural England; and

(e)   any other bodies or persons he considers appropriate.'.

No. 71, in page 7, line 3 [Clause 9], at end insert— '"local authorities" has the same meaning as in section [Local authorities to have regard to information on energy measures in exercising functions].'.

Mr. Chope: In addition to speaking to my amendment No. 32, I shall say a few words about the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), which qualify clause 9 by requiring the Secretary of State to have regard to, among other things, four desirable outcomes when carrying a review of permitted development orders.

Before considering the detail of what is proposed, I shall set the matter in context. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 contains important safeguards and restrictions on the ability of a landowner to carry out development on his land. Those restrictions are imposed on the grounds of amenity, and are a significant restriction on the principle that an Englishman's home is his castle and that he can do in it and on his land whatever he wishes.

Planning provides community protection for local people who are concerned about intrusive, insensitive and antisocial behaviour. It is reflected in Government guidance emanating in the form of policy planning guidance and appears in the latest manifestation of that—regional spatial strategies. The regional spatial strategy for the south-west of England, which is of
17 Mar 2006 : Column 1729
interest to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) on the Front Bench, has been discussed. It is very controversial. It must be submitted to the Department by the end of March, and as I understand it—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Interesting and controversial the regional spatial strategy might be, but it is not relevant to the amendment under discussion.

Mr. Chope: I shall return to section 52(2)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Mr. Hollobone: I am listening to my hon. Friend's words with interest. Last time we discussed the Bill, we had the benefit of the presence of a Minister from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to deal with development issues. Does my hon. Friend share my disappointment that the Minister is not present today?

Next Section IndexHome Page