The Daily Telegraph

‘Arbitrary’ rule may force households to place heat pump in middle of garden


HOUSEHOLDS could be forced to install heat pumps in the middle of their gardens because of an “arbitrary” rule.

Heat pumps must be installed at least 3ft (one metre) from any boundary wall, according to planning regulation­s that must be met to qualify for the Government’s £5,000 heat pump grant.

The rules were originally put in place to mitigate concerns over the noise levels from older models of heat pumps.

But Leah Robson, the director of renewables installers Your Energy Your Way, said the rules were “arbitrary”, because mandatory checks were already done to ensure sound levels do not disturb neighbours.

Heat pumps must be sited a certain distance away from neighbouri­ng properties, which can put them up to 22ft away from the house, depending on the size of the heat pump.

“We have definitely lost customers in the past who just couldn’t find a spot to put it in, and it is putting people off from installing heat pumps.”

“I’m just not clear what purpose the one-metre rules serves,” she added. “I accept that we don’t want to be making noise and annoying other people, but that’s covered by the sound test.”

Liz Bentley, a meteorolog­ist, is hoping to install a heat pump outside her Victorian semi-detached home in Reading, Berks, but has been put off by the 3ft rule that could leave the heat pump sticking out into her narrow garden.

“It has been challengin­g to find something that fits,” she said. I’m probably going to end up with a solution that’s not ideal for me.”

She added: “If it’s stuck in the middle of my lawn, then I think that probably will be the final thing that will prevent us from moving down this road.

“My outside space is important to me, and I don’t really want one of these systems stuck in the middle of my garden.”

The issue was raised by the House of Lords Environmen­t and Climate Change Committee in a recent letter to the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), which warned that the Government’s £450million heat pump subsidy scheme was failing because of low uptake.

A DESNZ spokesman said: “The Government is currently conducting an independen­t review of the relevant planning rules, which will report in the summer.” Baroness Parminter, who chairs the committee, called the rules outdated because new heat pump models are quieter and the rule makes installati­on harder.

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