Solar Panel Installation - Planning Rights

February 23, 2021

When considering a solar PV installation, it is important to ensure all local laws, rules and regulations are complied with.

Previously, we have discussed the requirement to obtain approval from your local District Network Operator (DNO) in our blog, ‘No Export, No Problem’ but did you know you might also need planning permission?
Broadly speaking, the rules are as follows:

Rooftop

Solar panels on the roof of a non-domestic building will qualify for ‘permitted development’  if the following conditions are observed –
 
  • The equipment 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 the equipment should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable
Additionally, the following limits must be met –
  • Solar panels installed on a wall or a pitched roof should project no more than 200mm from the wall surface or roof slope
  • 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)
  • Equipment mounted on a roof must not be within one metre of the external edge of that roof
  • Equipment mounted on a wall must not be within one metre of a junction of that wall with another wall or with the roof of the building
  • The panels must not be installed on a listed building or on a building that is within the grounds of a listed building, or on a site designated as a scheduled monument
  • If the building is on Article 2(3) designated land* the equipment must not be installed on a wall or a roof slope which fronts a highway
  • If the equipment is on the roof of the building the capacity for generation of electricity across the whole of the site cannot exceed 1 megawatt
  • Other than microgeneration solar thermal equipment or microgeneration solar PV equipment, if there is to be any other solar PV equipment installed on the roof of a building then the Prior Approval (56 days) of the Local Planning Authority is required. This will assess the design and external appearance of the development, particularly in respect of the impact of glare on occupiers of neighbouring land
If your proposed system is unable to meet all of the above criteria then a full planning application will be required.

Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.
 

Ground-Mount

Solar panels in the grounds of a non-domestic building will qualify for ‘permitted development’ if the following conditions are observed – 

  • No part of the installation should be higher than 4m
  • The size of the array should be no more that 9 square metres or 3m wide by 3m deep
  • The installation should be at least 5m from the boundary of the property
  • Panels should not be installed within the boundary of a listed building or a scheduled monument
  • If the property is in an Article 2(3) designated area* no part of the solar installation should be nearer to any highway bounding the grounds of the property than the part of the building that is nearest to that highway
  • Note that only the first stand alone solar installation will be permitted development. Further installations will require planning permission from the local authority.
If your proposed system is unable to meet all of the above criteria then a full planning application will be required.
* Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.
As a rule, BeBa Energy will always try and develop systems that avoid the need to apply for full planning permission.
 
If, however, it is not practical to satisfy all of the criteria above – if your site justifies a system larger than 1 megawatt for example – we will incorporate the planning process into our development process.

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.