Planning Permission for Solar Panels

By Katie Anderson on July 27th, 2011


In most cases it’s no longer necessary to apply for planning permission in order to install solar panels. There are, however, certain exceptions to the rule.

In 2008, the Government changed the rules to make it easier and more accessible for homeowners to invest in renewable energy.

Although by their very nature planning rules can often be open to interpretation, with it generally falling on the local authority to interpret them, changes to permitted development rights for renewable technologies were introduced on 6th April 2008 and 12th March 2009. These changes has seen the requirements for planning permission for most domestic microgeneration technologies lifted.

It’s always best to check with your local council before hand, but as a general rule solar panels are permitted unless:

Solar PV (Roof Mounted) Rules for England

  • the panels protrude more then 200mm when installed.

Solar PV (Roof Mounted) Rules for Scotland

As England but to include the following:

  • installed on any part of the external walls of the building if the building contains a flat.
  • when installed on a flat roof the panels are situated within 1 metre from the edge of the roof or protrude more than 1 metre above the plane of the roof.
  • the installed panels project higher than the highest point of the roof (excluding the chimney).
  • the property is within a World Heritage Site or a conservation area and the solar PV equipment is installed on a roof which forms the front of the building and is visible from the road.
  • the solar PV equipment must minimise its effect on the amenity of the area and be removed when no longer used or needed.

Solar PV (Standing) Rules for England

  • the solar panels are more than 4 metres in height.
  • the installation is less than 5 metres away from any boundary.
  • above a maximum area of array of 9m2
  • situated on a wall within any part of the curtilage of the dwelling house and would be visible from a highway in World Heritage Sites and conservation areas.

Solar PV (Standing) Rules for Scotland

As England but to include the following:

  • the solar PV system is installed a distance from the boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling house which is less than the height of the array.
  • it is within the curtilage of a listed building.
  • the system results in more than one free standing solar.
  • the building is within a conservation area or World Heritage Site and the solar PV or solar thermal equipment is installed on a wall or roof which forms the front of the building and is visible form the road.
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