The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and local Fingal TD Darragh O’Brien, has signed into law revised planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of houses and certain non-domestic buildings. The exemptions are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and combating climate change. The changes take immediate effect.
These regulations aim to bring Ireland into line with the EU’s Solar Rooftops Initiative by making permitting procedures for installing solar on rooftops shorter and simpler. It supports a target of installing up to 380MW (approximately 1 million solar panels) of microgeneration capacity as part of Ireland’s overall solar targets under the Government’s Climate Action Plan. This would generate over 300 GWh of renewable electricity per annum, with the potential to abate 1.4 million tonnes of CO2eq over the lifetime of the installations.
Commenting on the regulations, Minister O’Brien said, “With these new exemptions we are removing barriers and ensuring that individuals, communities, businesses and farms in Fingal can generate their own electricity, reduce their own bills and play their part in creating a zero-carbon future fuelled by renewable energy. These changes will facilitate the rollout of rooftop solar panels across Fingal and, coupled with the Government-supported SEAI Solar PV grant, will see more people install solar panels across the county. This has the added benefit of increasing Ireland’s energy security, a major challenge given current energy pressures. These regulations implement an important commitment in the Programme for Government and will help Ireland meet the Government’s Climate Action Plan targets.
“Houses, regardless of location in Fingal, will now be able to have solar panels installed on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission, which I know will be very welcome to many homeowners in the county. The new exemptions for educational, community and religious buildings will also give institutions such as schools greater opportunity to reduce their energy bills. They will also provide new financial and climate-related opportunities for farmers, underpinned by available grants.
“While buildings and areas of architectural heritage significance in Fingal have a role to play in meeting our renewable energy ambition, it is important that we ensure sufficient safeguards for our protected structures and architectural conservation areas from inappropriate development. I am satisfied that these amendments as well as the existing safeguards in the Planning Act and Regulations provide the necessary safeguards. In most instances, a case-by-case assessment by the relevant planning authority will be necessary to ensure that solar development does not materially affect the character of our protected structures and Architectural Conservation Areas.”
Under the revised regulations the following is now allowed:
Copies of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No. 3) Regulations 2022 and the supporting Planning and Development (Solar Safeguarding Zone) Regulations 2022 will be available on the Irish Statute Book website. The Solar Safeguarding Zones are also available for viewing on the myplan.ie