Planning Permission

In England and Scotland, changes to permitted development rights for renewable technologies introduced on 6th April 2008 and 12th March 2009 respectively, have lifted the requirements for planning permission for most domestic microgeneration technologies.

The General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), or the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Domestic Microgeneration) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2009 grants rights to carry out certain limited forms of development on the home, without the need to apply for planning permission. The scope of the GPDO in England and the TCP (GPD) in Scotland now extends to the following technologies:

Solar PV and Solar Thermal (roof & wall mounted):

Permitted unless:

  • panels when installed protrude more then 200mm.
  • they would be placed on the principal elevation facing onto or visible from the highway in buildings in Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites.


Solar PV and Solar Thermal (stand alone):

Permitted unless:

  • more than 4 metres in height
  • installed less than 5 metres away from any boundary
  • above a maximum area of array of 9m²
  • situated within any part of the curtilage of the dwelling house or would be visible from the highway in Conservations Areas and World Heritage Sites.


Wales and Northern Ireland

Permitted Development and planning policy in general is a devolved responsibility. The Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Government are currently considering changes to their legislation on permitted developments, to facilitate installations of microgeneration technologies. Legislation is expected in both countries later this year.

Until then, householders in Wales and Northern Ireland must consult with their local authority regarding planning permission.

In many cases fixing solar panels to the roof of a single dwelling house is likely to be considered 'permitted development' under planning law with no need to apply for planning permission. 

There are, however, important exceptions and provisos, which must be observed.

These permitted development rights apply to houses. If you live in a flat and are considering fitting solar panels you are advised to contact your LPA for guidance.

All solar installations are subject to the following conditions:

  • Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the appearance of the building.
  • They should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area.
  • When no longer needed for microgeneration they should be removed as soon as possible.


Building Regulations

If you wish to install a solar panel on your roof building regulations will normally apply.

The ability of the existing roof to carry the load (weight) of the panel will need to be checked and proven. Some strengthening work may be needed.

Building regulations also apply to other aspects of the work such as electrical installation. It is advisable to contact an installer who can provide the necessary advice.

Disclaimer

This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information.

This guidance relates to the planning regime for England. Policy in Wales may differ. If in doubt contact your Local Planning Authority.