Merton Rule – United Kingdom

With aims to inspire renewable energy generation at the local level, in October 2003, Merton became the first local authority in the United Kingdom (UK) to adopt a policy requiring new non-residential developments to generate a portion of their energy needs from on-site renewables.

Merton’s policy requires new non-residential developments over 11,000 square feet to generate at least 10 percent of their energy needs from on-site renewable energy equipment.  Qualifying technologies are: Wind, Photovoltaics, Solar hot water systems, Biomass heating, Biomass Combined Heat and Power, Ground sourced heating, and Ground sourced cooling.

Sincethen the Merton Rule, as it’s been termed, has been adopted by over 80 London burroughs and approximately 70 more have intentions of including the rule in their Local Development Framework (LDF) (a collection of updateable policy specific pamphlets) in 2008. As of January 2008, the rule has been applied over 100 times by Merton, Croydon, and other communities.

While initially the rule did not apply to residential developments, it has been common in burroughs for residential developments over a certain threshold (for example, 10 houses in Croydon) to be included. 

The Merton Rule policy briefing also states the total installed value of renewables in 2003 was around $51.7 million and as a result of the 10% renewable rule this will increase by over 2,000% to $1.1 billion by 2008 – and this does not include all the jobs created in the other disciplines and professions such as: architecture, services engineering, marketing and maintenance.

The London government has also been advocating for widespread use of the Merton rule. In 2004, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper issued planning policy statement 22(PPS22) stating that “the Government (will) expect all planning authorities to include policies in their development plans that require a percentage of the energy in new developments to come from on-site renewables, where it is viable.” 

Cooper further promotes green growth in her planning policy statement on climate change(published in 2007).   She requests that planning authorities “expect a proportion of the energy supply of new development to be secured from decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy sources,” and where possible, surpass the target percentage for developments.

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