THE planning chief for Ilkley has warned this week that it would be more cost effective for householders to burn five-pound notes than install domestic wind turbines and solar panels.

Councillor Chris Greaves (Wharfedale) was responding to a call to change the planning laws to make it easier for people to install green energy generating technology in their own homes.

The call comes from an organisation called the New Local Government Network (NLGN) which wants to see the relaxation of rules to encourage domestic eco-friendly energy generation.

James Macgregor is the author of the report published this week by the NLGN. He says: "Local authorities should be required to demonstrate that micro-generation plans were in the public interest."

The report calls for councils not only to relax planning laws, but to encourage domestic energy generation by giving Council Tax rebates and providing interest free loans to householders willing to invest in the technology.

But Councillor Greaves, who heads the Keighley Area Planning Panel and is also an alternate member of the Shipley Area Planning Panel, which covers Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston, is sceptical.

He said: "I have very mixed feelings about them - solar panels less so because they are not particularly intrusive, but you are wasting your money - it is a complete waste of your financial resources to do it."

Coun Greaves said it would take around ten years of energy savings to claw back the cash spent on solar panel installation. "You might as well burn £5 notes, it would be cheaper," he said.

The Keighley planning panel has recently turned down two applications for domestic wind turbines. Although each application is considered on its particular merits, Coun Greaves believes generally that wind turbines can be intrusive, unsightly and noisy.

While solar panels are less unsightly, he thinks they would be out of place on a listed building or in a Conservation Area, which includes most of Ilkley.

Coun Greaves said it would be difficult for a domestic customer to save enough get their money back from wind turbines or solar panels.

And he said that wind turbines caused a nuisance. Coun Greaves said: "To have something that will power anything more than a radio, it will make a noise. They are ugly and intrusive on the neighbours. Half the time the wind is too strong for them and half the time the wind is not strong enough - the pay back will take years and years."

He said it would be better for people to buy their electricity from large companies which generate in more eco-friendly ways.

"It is a far better way to let the big boys use their green technology and buy it from them. At the end of the day that would be cheaper and in the long run it would be just as environmentally friendly," said Coun Greaves.

The NLGN report also calls on central government to financially reward local authorities which encourage micro-generation.