Thursday 23 May 2024
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Contact Details T: 086 8903154 Email : johnpaul.oshea@cllr.corkcoco.ie

Planning Permission Exemptions for Rooftop Solar Panels on Homes and Other Buildings Proposed

Planning Permission Exemptions for Rooftop Solar Panels on Homes and Other Buildings Proposed

Houses regardless of location, will soon be able to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission.

Exemptions proposed for the first time for solar rooftops of homes and buildings like community and educational buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries and farms. Exemptions for certain wall-mounted and free-standing solar panel installations proposed to be increased to 60 square metres.

The Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke, TD recently published proposed revisions to the existing planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels on the roofs of houses and certain non-domestic buildings. A public consultation as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process is now open and will run until 13 July. The proposed changes are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and national action on climate change.

Welcoming the regulations, North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea said “These draft regulations will help facilitate the rollout of rooftop solar energy across the country. They will enable individuals, communities, businesses and farms to play their part in creating a future fuelled by renewable energy and acting against climate change. They will help people and businesses to reduce their energy bills and increase Ireland’s energy security, a major challenge given developments in Europe and the need to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels.”

Under the draft regulations the following is proposed:

·       For solar panel installations on houses: it is proposed to increase the existing planning exemptions for installing solar panels on rooftops of homes, regardless of their geographical location. Solar installations will be able to cover the entire roof of a house, subject to minor setback distances from the edge of the roof.

·       For solar panel installations on rooftops of all other existing classes of development (Industrial; Light Industrial and Business Premises; Agricultural): rooftop solar installations covering the entire roof are proposed to be exempt from requiring planning permission. However, in 43 proposed solar safeguarding zones, the existing exemption of 50 square metres or less is proposed to be increased to 60 square metres per building. These proposed solar safeguarding zones, which constitute less than 3% of the country’s land area, are necessary to address aviation safety concerns due to the potential impact of glint and glare arising from increased solar developments in proximity to sites such as airports and hospitals (which have helipads). Anyone seeking to avail of larger rooftop solar installations within solar safeguarding zones can apply for planning permission.

·       Apartments; educational/community/religious/health/recreational buildings and libraries: for the first time, it is proposed to exempt the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of such buildings from requiring planning permission, subject to conditions and the rooftop area limit in proposed solar safeguarding zones.

·       Exemptions for wall-mounted and free-standing solar panel installations: free-standing solar panel installations for houses are exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission subject to a 25 square metre area limit and conditions requiring a certain amount of private open space to be maintained for the use of occupants. The exempted area for all other categories except apartments is proposed to be increased to 60 square metres. In addition, wall mounted solar installations of 60 square metres will also be exempted for industrial and agricultural buildings.

Minister Burke commented “Houses, regardless of location, will soon be able to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission, which I know will be very welcome to many homeowners. Draft proposals for community/educational/religious buildings will also give institutions such as schools a greater opportunity to reduce their energy bills. By proposing these increased exemptions we are bringing exemptions into line with our renewables ambitions and helping people to play their part in climate action and to reduce their energy bills. In finalising these regulations we will implement an important commitment in the Programme for Government and will help us meet the targets set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.”

Additional Info:

In accordance with Strategic Environmental Assessment requirements, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has published proposed revisions to the solar panel planning exemptions in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, for public consultation. It now invites submissions on the two sets of draft regulations.

These draft regulations aim to bring Ireland into line with the EU’s Solar Rooftops Initiative by make permitting procedures for installing solar rooftops shorter and simpler. It supports a target of generating up to 380MW (approximately 1 million solar panels) of microgeneration as part of Ireland’s overall target of 2.5GW solar electricity by 2030 under the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

The draft regulations, which have been published as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process can be found here or viewed in person at the offices of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Custom House, Dublin 1, between 9am and 5pm up to and including 13 July 2022.

Submissions can be submitted by email to SolarSEA@housing.gov.ie or by post to Solar SEA Submissions, Planning Policy and Legislation Section, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Custom House, Dublin 1, D01 W6X0. The deadline for receipt of applications is 5pm on 13 July 2022.

In addition to the publication of the two sets of draft regulations, in accordance with the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive 2001/42/EC, as transposed into Irish law, an SEA Environmental Report and non-technical summary have been prepared on the likely significant environmental effects of implementing the draft regulations.

Furthermore, in accordance with the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011-2021, an Appropriate Assessment (AA) Screening Determination has been prepared in respect of the draft regulations.