Present to Businesses and Homeowners with Solar Ambitions as Planning Rules Relaxed

March 01, 2024 by Greg Bishop

NGRE notes with interest news from the Government that planning rules are being relaxed, meaning that some businesses and homes will be able to install rooftop solar panels more easily. 

The changes, which came into force in November, are to Permitted Development Rights rules and will mean more will be able to install solar panels on their roofs without going through the planning system.

Permitted Development Rights are a set of planning rules that allow certain types of development, including adding solar panels, to be carried out without having to go through the sometimes lengthy and potentially costly process of obtaining planning permission.

Government statistics show that those going through the planning system are having to wait over eight weeks and face extra costs.

Commercial Solar 1MW Limit Scrapped

Specifically, the requirement for full planning permission for commercial scale solar installations that will generate more than 1MW of electricity has been scrapped.

The Government says it wants to encourage solar panel installations on already developed land and is targeting their use on canopies above car parks specifically.

Domestic Solar Flat-roof Rule Scrapped

In terms of domestic solar, the changes will mean homes with flat roofs will now be able to install panels without planning permission, something that already exists for non-domestic solar.

Roll-Out of Clean, Low-Carbon, Green Technology

Greg Bishop, Managing Director of NGRE, said: “Any move which removes red tape and bureaucracy and helps the roll-out of this clean, low-carbon, green technology is good in my book.

“Reports have shown that rooftop solar could easily provide a sizable chunk of our energy needs and remove a sizeable chunk from our carbon footprint; this goes someway to showing that the Government is serious about their targets.”

He added: “I’m certain more businesses and householders will be encouraged to invest in solar PV now that these two obstacles have been removed.”

The Government is aiming for 70GW of ground-mounted and rooftop solar capacity by 2035 as part of its Net Zero drive, a fivefold increase on current installed capacity.

The news comes following a report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a non-profit organisation that supports informed debate on energy and climate change issues in the UK, that concluded that there is a capacity potential of 15GW on the roofs of commercial properties in the UK, such as warehouses, and a further 7GW on household roofs.

Solar Planning Requirements

In many cases, planning permission is not required for solar panel installations on domestic and non-domestic properties.

However, in both cases, if installed under Permitted Development Rights, solar PV systems and associated equipment must comply with the following rules:

  • Equipment on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area.
  • When no longer needed, equipment should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Panels must not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the wall or roof slope.

NGRE understands that the specific flat roof rule for non-domestic premises, that where panels are installed on a flat roof, the highest part of the equipment should not be more than one metre above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney), will now be adopted for domestic properties.

For further planning requirements for domestic and non-domestic solar installations, including listed properties and conservation area properties contact your local planning office.

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