Council goes international with Merton Rule

Merton Council welcomed members from the Spanish Federation of Local Authorities (FEMP) to the borough yesterday (Tuesday 17 March) to share with them the merits of the Merton Rule and the future of monitoring and researching carbon dioxide emissions.
Representatives from Madrid, Catalonia, San Sebastian and Valladolid were keen to visit Merton, home of the renewable energy planning policy the Merton Rule, to find out more about Merton’s green initiatives, the practicalities of the Merton Rule and what the future is for reducing carbon emissions in the built environment.

Questions raised at the seminar organised by Merton Council focused on the implementation of the Merton Rule and the challenges of meeting stringent government demands for all new housing to be zero carbon by 2016.

Merton’s visitors were then taken to the Big Yellow Storage Box in Morden and shown the groundbreaking renewable energy monitoring system and database called the Energy-DataGauge which the council is piloting there. The system will enable the council to monitor buildings to check they are being constructed to meet the environmental standards of the Merton Rule and assess how well the renewable energy systems work. The group then went to one of Merton’s local businesses to look at the wind turbines on the site.

The visit comes after Merton Council unveiled its innovative monitoring system last year at its national environment conference held at the Civic Centre, Morden. The council is developing the database with UK renewable energy and sustainability consultancy Metropolis Green to measure how much renewable energy is generated from buildings across the borough.

Adrian Hewitt from Metropolis Green gave a presentation entitled The Merton Rule – the power of municipal planning. He spoke about the history and principles of the Merton Rule policy and went on to talk about the future importance of data gathering to the provision of information on CO2 emissions and energy efficiency. He also talked about how the inclusion of a building ‘birth certificate’ as part of the monitoring system will help councils keep track of the performance of renewable energy installations such as solar panels and wind turbines. Developers will have to submit a ‘birth certificate’ for their new buildings as part of the planning requirements. The certificate will detail the type of development , its predicted CO2 emissions and the details of any onsite renewable energy systems.

Merton Council cabinet member for the environment Councillor David Simpson said: ‘It is wonderful to welcome our visitors from Spain and show them what we’re doing here in Merton. We appreciate their interest in the Merton Rule and all the work we have been doing to take it to the next level. Global warming – as the name suggests – affects the whole world and it is up to the developed economies, with all the demands we make of our planet, to lead the way in reducing the energy we use in the first place. Coming up with legislation and guidelines to enable that to happen is an important part of this. The Merton Rule is now implemented throughout the country by numerous councils and central government has adopted the principle of the Merton Rule into its national planning guidance.’

FEMP representative Eduardo Peña González said: ‘This has been an invaluable visit for us. Sharing best practice and experience with other councils whether within Spain or overseas is always a valuable exercise as we have so much to learn from each other. As we are trying to address a global problem it seems even more apt that we should learn from different countries’ experiences. We are working on both monitoring and reducing our carbon emissions and Merton is the ideal place to come and find out about how we do that by using technological advances as well as our planning guidance and legislation to improve our built environment.’

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Note to editors
Photography available on request.

The Merton Rule is the groundbreaking planning policy developed by Merton Council which requires all new buildings to cut CO2 emissions by 10% using renewable energy on site. Merton developed the rule and adopted it in 2003. Its impact was so great that the then Mayor of London and many councils across the UK have implemented the rule. It is now an accepted element of national planning strategy.

The Spanish representatives at the seminar were: Mayor of Besalú (Catalonia) Lluís Guino y Subirós; Mayor of Rivas-Vaciamadrid (Madrid) José Masa Díaz; Deputy Mayor of Valladolid City Council and Councillor for sustainable development, new technologies and territorial cohesion Jesús Enríquez Tauler; San Sebastian City Council technical adviser Jon Gastañares and FEMP technical adviser Eduardo Peña.