Solar panel restrictions lifted as property owners now free to install as many as they like

Stock image

Caroline O'Doherty

HOMES and other buildings will no longer need planning permission for solar panels, except where they are close to airports and some emergency facilities.

New rules that could be signed as early as next week will lift the current restrictions that require planning permission for panels bigger than 12 square metres on homes and 50 square metres on businesses.

It means property owners can put up as much solar as they like subject only to construction safety regulations.

The only other restrictions apply to properties in 43 ‘solar safeguarding zones’ around the country where glint and glare from panels might pose a risk to aircraft.

Ten 5km zones have been designated around airports and aerodromes while 3km zones have been designated in 33 locations around helipads and emergency and military facilities.

In these zones, which cover about 2pc of the country, up to 300 square metres of solar panels can be installed without planning permission but above that, permission must be sought and may be refused.

Details of the zones’ locations and boundaries are to be published on the government website,

The new rules were presented this morning by Planning Minister Peter Burke to TDs and Senators of the Oireachtas Housing and Planning Committee.

Minister Burke said he hoped they would be formally signed off on next week. The committee members said there was all-party support for them.

The rules follow a move in the last few weeks to open up grant-support for solar panels to small businesses, schools, community groups and institutions.

Soaring electricity prices and the introduction of ‘microgeneration’ schemes where property owners can get paid for excess solar power they export to the national grid has also boosted interest in solar.

Committee members raised the issue of cost, however, saying 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 the lifting of the planning application for 98pc of the country would remove some of the initial cost for many property owners.

As has always been the case, some restrictions will continue to apply where properties are listed as of architectural or heritage importance but Minister Burke said it would still be possible for many to install panels where they do interfere with the character of the building.

More Irish News

Top Stories