Woking Borough Council

CS23 Renewable and low carbon energy generation

Key to the reduction of carbon emissions will be the generation of energy from renewable sources. The UK has committed to securing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and government has set out how it expects this to be achieved in the UK Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) 2.

The NPPF gives a strong positive message about renewable and low carbon energy generation both as stand alone development and as part of residential and commercial development.

The Government is seeking to stimulate greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation through a wide range of measures. The Energy Act (2008) provided the basis on which the Secretary of State could introduce fiscal measures that reward the generation of LZC energy. This includes the introduction of a feed-in tariff (FIT) for small scale renewable electricity in April 2010 and the planned two-phase introduction of renewable heat incentive (RHI) in autumn 2011 (non-domestic) and October 2012 (domestic). These measures have been designed to provide a guaranteed income to owners and installers of small scale LZC heat and power generating technologies at a level and for a duration that is sufficient to incentivise significant investment in these measures.

CS23: Renewable and low carbon energy generation

The Council recognises significant progress needs to be made if national targets for the generation of renewable energy are to be met and encourages the development of stand-alone renewable energy installations in the Borough. All proposals will be considered on their individual merits with regard to scale, location, technology type and cumulative impact on the surrounding area.

The Council particularly encourages applications from community-based and community-owned projects.

Applicants should take appropriate steps to mitigate any adverse impacts of proposed development through careful consideration of location, scale, design and other measures. All reasonable steps to minimise noise impacts should be taken.

Applicants should provide sound evidence of the availability of the resource which will be harnessed or the fuel to be used, including details of the adequacy of transport networks where applicable and detailed studies to assess potential adverse impacts such as noise nuisance, flood risk, shadow flicker and interference with telecommunications.

Reasoned justification

The South East Plan included a sub-regional target for the Thames Valley and Surrey sub-region. The Council is confident that the evidence used to inform the targets is sound and credible and will therefore retain them.

The targets for Thames Valley and Surrey are set out in Table 6. Whilst no sub-regional targets have been identified beyond 2016, the overall target for the region is likely to result in further increases equating to approximately a doubling of the 2016 levels by 2026.

Table 6: Sub-regional targets for land-based renewable energy


2010 Renewable Energy Target

(Mega Watts)

2016 Renewable Energy Target

(Mega Watts)

Thames Valley and Surrey



Source: extract from policy NRM14 of the South East Plan, 2009.

Development of renewable and low carbon energy provides one of the mainstays of the provisions set out in the Climate Change Act. The Act puts into statute the UK's targets to reduce the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (both against a 1990 baseline). The Act is supported by the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan which sets out the UK Government's strategy for climate and energy and proposes measures to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors.

Woking Borough Council commissioned a climate change, renewable, decentralised and low carbon energy study which sets out the Borough's opportunities and constraints for renewable energy development. The key opportunities were considered to be medium-large scale wind energy, combined heat and power (CHP) and solar heat and photovoltaic (PV).

A wind energy feasibility study for the Borough (quoted in the climate change, renewable, decentralised and low carbon energy study) concluded that wind speed for medium - large turbines is not a limiting factor anywhere in the Borough but there were a number of land and planning-related constraints such as ancient monuments, designated landscapes and habitats which may constrain the development of wind turbines. In addition, there are `possible' areas of constraint such as aerodrome notification areas where there is a requirement to consult the relevant operators and authorities. The study revealed there are very few unconstrained places for wind turbines in the Borough, therefore there will be some practical obstacles to be overcome in siting medium-large turbines. Nonetheless, there are many areas where it may be possible to locate wind turbines subject to over-coming one or more possible constraints. Locating wind turbines in any locations within the Borough would require detailed studies to assess potential adverse impacts such as noise nuisance, flood risk, shadow flicker and interference with telecommunications.

There are opportunities for further use of CHP and the Council's experience in the application of this technology means it is well placed to encourage further use of CHP. However, an adequate `base' heat demand is required to maximise the efficiency of CHP and other forms of community heat network. In addition, physical constraints can limit the installation of new heat distribution infrastructure (or the expansion of existing networks).

Photovoltaic or PV are solar electricity systems that capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells and convert the sunlight into electricity. Solar water heating systems (also called solar thermal) use the heat from the sun to heat water that can be used for domestic hot water. Photovoltaic and solar thermal energies are considered to have good potential in Woking due to the favourable insolation levels in the south east of England. PV provides a good complementary energy source to CHP and, along with wind energy, provides a higher level of carbon emissions reduction than heat-based renewable energy sources. Woking has been a pioneer of local authority-led large scale PV installations with the result that nearly half of the total installed PV capacity in the region is located in the Borough.

A number of different fuel types are collectively described as `biomass' including: wood fuel from woodland management or forest thinning operations, waste wood from sawmills and the construction industry, agricultural products and wastes including straw, slurry and chicken litter, energy crops including miscanthus grass and short rotation coppice and household putrescible waste. There is limited potential for the Borough to generate adequate biomass to meet a significant growth in biomass-based energy supply. However, supply chains are becoming established within Surrey (where greater potential exists) and Woking's road network and rail aggregates depot provide potential to enable importation of biomass fuel from local sources into the Borough. The existence of heat distribution mains in some parts of the borough could be used to distribute energy via community-scale biomass heating.

There are no active or recent landfill sites where methane gas is being produced on a regular basis or at any volume that would enable gas capture and re-use for energy production. The sludge from the only sewerage treatment works in the Borough is transferred to another site outside the Borough before being recycled. However, there may be opportunities to divert suitable wastes from existing waste collection and disposal arrangements to be used in anaerobic digestion to generate biogas. There are no power stations in the Borough so waste heat recovery opportunities and the small rivers with low flow provide very limited potential for hydro electricity.

Delivery strategy

An SPD is being produced which sets out the detail and delivery mechanisms behind this policy.

The Council's key partner in delivering the strategy is its ESCo Thameswey Energy Limited. The existence of an ESCo in the borough with experience operating community energy systems and retailing heat to customers will help to ensure delivery of any new community heat energy.

The Core Strategy has strong links with the Climate Change Strategy and each document supports the delivery of the other. The Council will work with community groups such as Local Agenda 21 to deliver both strategies.

Monitoring and review

This policy will be measured against the following indicators and targets annually through the AMR to enable the Council to effectively monitor the Borough's centres.

  • MW of new renewable energy installations permitted.
  • MW installed capacity of new renewable energy.

Key evidence base

  • Climate Change, Decentralised, Renewable and Low Carbon Evidence Base, produced by ecsc, 2010.
  • Woking Borough Council Climate Change Strategy, 2008.