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Do You Need Planning Permission to Install Solar Panels?

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The fundamentals of solar panels and planning permission

People are increasingly looking for new, more cost-effective ways to generate power and heat for their homes and businesses as energy prices rise. Solar panels continue to be a preferred alternative to traditional energy sources.

Installing a solar PV system is an excellent method to generate renewable energy, benefit the environment, and save money on household energy costs. However, you may have questions concerning solar panels and planning permission.

Is it Necessary to Obtain Planning Approval if You Wish to Install Solar Panels?

Is it necessary to obtain planning approval if you wish to install solar panels?

Most of the time, the answer is no. Most of the time, solar panels do not require planning clearance because they constitute a “permitted development.” However, there are certain limitations to this. To be compatible, your solar panels must be installed in a specified manner and meet specific standards.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to become acquainted with these conditions before having your solar PV system installed.

The Fundamentals of Solar Panels and Planning Permission

Solar panels are typically protected by “permitted development rights.”

Permitted development rights allow you to carry out certain construction projects without seeking authorisation and state that your solar PV installation must meet the following requirements:

  • Any device put on a building should have a minimum impact on the structure’s and surrounding area’s appearance. In other words, your solar system should be as inconspicuous as possible.
  • The solar PV system cannot be installed higher than the highest point of the roof (excluding the chimney)
  • The panels must not protrude more than 200mm (0.2m) from the roof or wall surface.
  • Solar panels are generally not permitted to be erected on the grounds of a listed building or a scheduled monument.
  • When equipment is no longer required, it should be uninstalled.
  • Buildings in conservation areas must meet extra standards, which we will discuss later.

In addition to the requirements we have just mentioned, standalone panels must be at least five metres from the property’s perimeter and no taller than four metres. The entire array must be less than 9m x 3m x 3m.

Furthermore, approved development rights apply only to the initial installation; any subsequent installations will require planning permission.

When Do You Need Permission to Install Solar Panels?

If your proposed solar PV installation does not fulfil the requirements for approved development rights, you may need to seek planning permission.

Here are three of the most prevalent conditions that may necessitate planning permission and solar PV so you can find out whether your roof is suitable.

Solar Panel Installation on a Flat Roof

Solar Panel Installation on a Flat Roof

There are no laws prohibiting the installation of solar panels on flat roofs. The issue is that solar panels cannot be put flat. To get the most sunlight, they must be constructed at a precise angle.

Solar panels must not extend more than 0.2 metres above the roof slope or be higher than the tallest point of the roof to be considered an approved development. They will almost certainly sit too high with a flat rooftop. To install a solar PV system on a flat roof, you will almost always need planning permission.

Solar Panel Installation in a Conservation Area

A conservation area is one that has a historic or architectural feature that is of national significance. England has over 10,000 conservation areas.

Solar panels can normally be installed without obtaining planning approval in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site. The panels, however, must not be erected in a location visible from any public route. If you are unsure, contact your local government.

Installing Solar Panels on a Historic Structure

A listed building is one that has been designated as having national historical or architectural significance. You must obtain listed building consent to install solar panels if you live in Grade I, Grade II*, or Grade II listed buildings.

Any change to a listed building that may “affect its character” must be pre-approved by Historic England and the National Amenity Societies. This also applies if you intend to install a solar PV system on the grounds of a listed building, or on the grounds of a non-listed property.

Listed building consent is not the same as planning permission and must be obtained from the local planning authority.

How to Apply for Planning Permission for Solar PV

If you believe you need to apply for planning clearance for your solar PV installation, the first step is to seek guidance from the government’s Planning Portal. They can advise you on whether your project requires planning permission and clarify any regulations that your application must follow.

When requesting planning approval, it can take several weeks for your planning authority to respond. Before organising the installation of your solar PV system, you should acquire planning permission. Once planning clearance is granted, you have three years to begin construction.

You can begin your planning application through the Planning Portal website, and they will walk you through every step of the process until your application is approved.

What if My Solar Panel Planning Application is Turned Down?

Most planning approval applications are processed in about eight weeks. It may take longer in some situations, although this only applies to particularly large or complicated projects.

There’s no reason why your request shouldn’t be authorised as long as you’ve followed all of the regulations outlined above. However, if your application is denied, you will be unable to proceed with your solar PV installation.

Summary

If you are in any doubt as to whether you need to obtain planning permission for your solar panels then it is recommended, for your own piece of mind, that you contact your local planning authority.They will be able to advise you on exactly what you can and cannot do to your property.

It is always better to check before any building or construction work starts as it can prove very costly if planning permission is needed and isn’t obtained from the outset, as you may be asked to remove your solar panel installation which could leave you out of pocket.

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Oliver Creevy
Ollie Creevy has over three years of expertise in the home improvements and solar panels sectors by writing content across multiple websites. He is highly knowledgeable about the latest trends, technologies and practices in this industry, and is passionate about sharing his insights with others. Ollie's writing has been featured in numerous publications, including MSN, Bustle, and Realtor.com.

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