Do I need planning permission for my solar panels?

At an SEAI organised event for solar installers in late 2019, SEAI reminded installers that planning permission for solar installations is required in certain circumstances. SEAI had carried out inspections of homes claiming the PV systems grant and, in the normal course of events, asked the homeowner applying for the grant how they got on with planning, and on more than one occasion were told: “it isn’t required.”

Let’s try to clear this up.

Image from (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland)

The Short Answer

The short answer is that if your solar installation covers an area greater than 12 square meters (about 6 solar panels) then planning permission is required. The planning regulations state under Class 2 (c) 1 that a planning exemption applies in circumstances where it does “not exceed 12 square metres or 50% of the total roof area, whichever is the lesser.” It’s not clear how a maximum of 12 square meters was arrived at, but in light of the Climate Crisis, it’s an unfortunate limitation.

(c) The installation or erection of solar panels on, or within the curtilage of a house, or any buildings within the curtilage of a house.

  1. The total aperture area of any such panel, taken together with any other such panel previously placed on or within the said curtilage, shall not exceed 12 square metres or 50% of the total roof area, whichever is the lesser.
  2. The distance between the plane of the wall or a pitched roof and the panel shall not exceed 15 centimetres.
  3. The distance between the plane of a flat roof and the panel shall not exceed 50 centimetres.
  4. The solar panel shall be a minimum of 50cm from any edge of the wall or roof on which it is mounted.

Where SolarShare Can Help With Solar PV

The good news is that SolarShare will assist you through the planning approval process and make light work of it. Costs include plans from Ordnance Survey Ireland and the planning application to your local council, and both are covered in your initial deposit. You will also need to post notice in an approved publication per standard guidelines from your County Council for planning permission.

Better news is that plans are in motion to change the regulation. Under the government’s Climate Action Plan 2019, a whole section of the plan is dedicated to micro-generation, and under Action 30, changes were to have been implemented by the end of last year.

Conclude review of the current exemptions relating to solar panels as provided for in the Planning and Development Regulations, in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and implement amendments arising from review (Q4 2019)

The End Result for Solar Panel Planning Permission?

While that was not accomplished by the deadline, the department advised in January 2020 that the review is nearly complete and it will then be up to the minister for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to decide on how and when it might come into law.

Watch this space for updates on the planning permission requirements.

And while you’re here, why not see how much you could start saving the moment you turn on your new solar system at home. Check out our website’s recent posts where more important information is available regarding SEAI solar grants and installing Solar PV systems.


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