Renewable energy and energy efficiency

Responding to climate change also raises potential conflicts between the drivers for renewable energy and energy efficiency, which do not always sit happily with landscape character, or the historic environment.

National Parks are not considered appropriate for large scale, commercial wind or solar farms due to impacts on landscape character as these are considered to be major development. There is significant potential for hydro schemes on Dartmoor, especially with the increased fluvial flows predicted with climate change, however significant environmental constraints exist because of impacts on biodiversity and water flows. These impacts are largely managed through licensing or regulatory processes. If the viability of the technology improves and average fluvial flows increase with climate change as predicted, demand for hydro schemes could increase.

The efficiency and viability of photovoltaics has improved significantly over the last plan period and been by far the most popular type of renewable technology installed. Without the incentive of the Feed In Tariff, though, the amount of new domestic solar installation (much of which does not require planning permission) has fallen.

A future focus on retrofitting existing buildings to address energy efficiency and carbon performance is likely in response to the climate emergency. For historic buildings a balance needs to be achieved between improving energy efficiency and avoiding damage both to the significance of the building and its fabric.

Principles:

  • The primary aim is to reduce energy consumption through improved building efficiency, particularly fabric-first building, retro-fitting enhancements and reducing the need to travel
  • Measures to improve the efficiency and carbon performance of historic buildings will be supported in line with Historic England guidance
  • There is a presumption against large scale renewable energy projects in the National Park as these are viewed as major development
  • The Authority will provide positive and proactive support for small scale renewable energy where its delivery is compatible with National Park purposes, through Local Plan policies and advice to applicants