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Planning Restrictions Lifted for Solar Panels In Ireland

Planning Permission to be lifted for Solar Panels

More good news in the solar industry as planning restrictions are due to be lifted, property owners are now free from planning permission for solar panel installations. Homes and other buildings will no more need planning permission for solar panel installations, except where they are near airports and some emergency facilities.

New rules that could be signed into law as soon as next week will lift current restrictions that require planning approval for solar panels bigger than 12 square meters on homes and 50 square meters on businesses.

It means property owners can put as much solar as they want subject only to construction safety regulations. The only other restrictions apply to property in 43 ‘safeguarding zones’ around the county where glint and glare of panels might pose a risk for aircraft.

Ten 5km zones have been identified around airports and aerodrome while 3km zones have also been designated in 33 locations near helipads and emergency facilities. In these zones, which cover approximately 2 percent of the country, up to 300 square meters of solar panels can be placed without planning permission but above this, permission must be sought and could be refused.

Details of the zones’ location and boundaries are to be posted on the government’s website, MyPlan.ie. The new rules were presented today by Planning Minister Peter Burke before the Houses of the Oireachtáns Housing and Planning Committee. With all-party support Minister Burke is hoping to get it formally signed of as early as next week.

This news comes after the government has made it possible for small businesses, schools and community groups to apply for solar panel grants. This decision is likely to further stimulate demand for solar panels.

Soaring electricity prices and the new microgeneration schemes where property owners can get paid for excess solar power they export to the national grid have already boosted interest in solar over the past year. Though some committee members raised concerns about cost, saying that the grants were low compared to the initial outlay for installing solar, Minister Burke said he would raise the issue with his government colleagues but said that lifting the planning application requirement for 98 percent of properties would remove some of the initial cost barrier for many property owners.

As has always been the case, some restrictions will continue to apply where properties are listed as being of architectural or heritage importance but Minister Burke said it would still be possible for many to install panels where they do not interfere with the character of the building.

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