Nick Rosen |
Charlie Luxton
Luxton – supports campaign

Off-Grid is launching a campaign to change the daft planning (zoning) rules, which treat every individual trying to create a cool space as if they were a developer trying to make a quick buck. And developers? Well, they get treated like saviours and thanked for bringing employment into the area.

We want to make it possible for individuals to build off-grid homes in green spaces at a time when the UK is slipping fast down the world league table for sustainable development (according to Ernst & Young). The same problems are facing Off-Grid homes in the United States.

We believe eco-homes should be given planning permission even when they are opposed by local householders worried about the value of their property. Woodlands, meadows, old farm buildings are all needed now if the huge pent-up demand for off-grid living is to be satisfied.

TV Architect Charlie Luxton is the first celebrity to support our campaign. There is no way as an individual that you will be allowed to have a low-impact sustainable life. You have to prove the viability in planning terms, says Luxton “and that’s horrendously difficult.”

We want to hear from anyone who is battling the planners as they try to live off-grid. We’ll help you all we can. And we want your help with our campaign, whoever you are. Please email your suggestions to – please click more for rest of article and Luxton interview in full:

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Luxton is focused on younger and poorer first time buyers. In the face of the record gap between house prices and incomes, he wants a shift towards temporary and oveable spaces.

Its all about empowering people to help themselves to build the places they want  he told me when we met in London.

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The Ernst & Young report also says the UK government is moving even further from its goal of achieving 10% renewables generation by 2010. Only 450MW of wind power was installed in 2005, far short of the number required to meet the 2010 target. The report blames difficulties in getting planning permission on key new power lines for holding up development of wind farms across the UK, the paper said.

“The decline suggestes the concerted campaign waged by the anti-wind farm lobby is succeeding and that support for nuclear is growing,” the paper said.

The report argues that the increasing signs new nuclear will form a central part of the 2006 Energy Review means the gap opened up by 2020–as some 30% of UK power generation is decommissioned–is now less likely to be filled by renewables, the paper said.

About 2,000MW of wind farms off western Scotland, equivalent to a large coal-fired plant, is dependent on a new line across Scotland, which is facing heavy opposition. The line is unlikely to get planning permission by 2007, making its completion by the 2008 deadline unlikely.

The report also says that offshore wind is still economically marginal because of insufficient turbines.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is ruining Britain’s finest countryside by breaking his own pledge to protect green belt land.

Mr Prescott has approved planning permission for 17 huge developments on green-belt land in the past two years. 2,500 acres of such land is estimated to have been built on every year since Labour came to power.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England warned that ‘a pattern is emerging of sustained attacks on green belts’.

‘And the biggest source of this pressure is government policy … We stand on the brink of massive and unprecedented loss of long-protected green-belt land.

‘Unlike today, losses in the past were small in scale and usually not a direct result of government policy,’ a spokesman said.

Luxton thinks councils can be persuaded to at least grant temporary permissions. Its not as simple as divorcing environment from planning, he says. The planners look at things in black and white. Either its developed or its not. But the arguments the government has set out in terms of top level directives like Kyoto also need to be implemented at the lower level.”

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