Consultation: MCS 020 Planning Standard for Permitted Development Installations of Air Source Heat Pumps

MCS is consulting on the planning requirements for Air Source Heat Pumps in domestic properties. 

To enable homeowners to install heat pump technology in their homes, Air Source Heat Pumps are deemed permitted development. Permitted Development Rights allow development to be carried out without a planning application, subject to conditions. Planning is devolved so conditions differ across the four devolved administrations; however, all four include a requirement for any Air Source Heat Pump to be compliant with MCS 020.

MCS 020 is designed to allow certified contractors to establish clearly whether an installation will meet permitted development requirements, including a calculation procedure to determine noise limit. Since MCS 020 was first issued in August 2011 and last updated in June 2019, there have been significant improvements in heat pump technology and contractors and consumers have raised concerns that current Permitted Development Rights are a barrier to the installation of Air Source Heat Pumps.

For example, Permitted Development Rights within Wales currently require air source heat pumps to be installed on domestic premises at least three metres from the site boundary and in England the rule is one metre. These requirements are considered a potential barrier to the uptake of heat pumps, especially in a terraced housing context.

In response to these concerns, the UK Government Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the Welsh Government both commissioned independent reviews of Air Source Heat Pump noise emissions and planning regulations. The DESNZ review, published in November 2023, recommended changes to Permitted Development Rights in England and to MCS 020.

At the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 23 November 2023, it was announced that the UK Government will consult on changing Permitted Development Rights that apply in England, including removing the one metre boundary rule. The Welsh Government anticipates a subsequent update to Permitted Development Rights for Air Source Heat Pumps in Wales.

MCS is now consulting on MCS 020 and the proposed changes include improving the definition of a solid barrier, background noise level assumptions and updated guidance on location. Proposals are designed to make installing a heat pump easier and more accessible.

The deadline for submitting comments on this consultation is 12.00pm on Friday 26 January 2024.

We invite you to send consultation responses to using the forms provided: