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Do you need planning permission for Solar Panels?

Do you need planning permission for Solar Panels


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Solar panels have become increasingly popular as a source of renewable energy for homeowners. Not only do they help reduce energy bills, but they also have a positive environmental impact. However, before you install them on your property, it’s important to understand whether planning permission is required for your solar panels.

In this blog, we will guide you through the regulations surrounding solar panel installation, including the criteria for permitted development, the need for planning permission, and the implications of installing solar panels without permission. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of the rules and regulations that apply to planning permission for solar panel installation, helping you make an informed decision for your home.

So, let’s discover everything there is to know about planning permission for solar panels, starting off with what the definition of solar panels are.

What are Solar Panels?

Solar panels, also known as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They consist of multiple solar cells that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into a usable form.

Solar panels are typically installed on the roof of a property, where they can maximise exposure to sunlight. The electricity generated by solar panels can be used to power your home, reducing your reliance on grid electricity and potentially lowering your energy bills.

Not only are they a reliable form of power, they are also a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to generate electricity, as they do not produce greenhouse gases or emit harmful pollutants.

Benefits of Solar Panels

There are several benefits to installing solar panels on your property. First and foremost, they can significantly lower your energy bills. By generating your own electricity, you can reduce your reliance on the grid and the associated costs. 

Additionally, solar panels can provide a return on investment over time, as the savings on your energy bills can offset the initial cost of installation. Installing solar panels also has positive environmental considerations, as they contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions and promote a sustainable lifestyle. 

Homeowners with solar panels can also benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme, where excess electricity generated by their panels can be sold back to the grid, further reducing energy costs.

The ECO4 Government Grant

In addition to the benefits of solar panels, homeowners may also qualify for the ECO4 Government Grant, The ECO4 grant is a UK program that helps low-income households and those with draughty homes make energy-efficient improvements for free, like loft insulation, solar panel or boiler upgrades. This can save them money on energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.

Here are a few key points about the ECO4 grant:

  • The ECO4 grant aims to reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions.
  • Eligibility for the grant is determined based on energy usage and the type of property you own.
  • The grant can help offset the initial cost of solar panel installation, making it a more affordable option for homeowners.

By taking advantage of the ECO4 Government Grant, homeowners can make energy-efficient improvements to their homes, including the installation of solar panels, home insulation, and air source heat pumps.

Installing roof mounted solar panels

What is Permitted Development?

Permitted development refers to certain types of development or building work that can be carried out without the need for planning permission. These permitted development rights are granted by the government and are intended to streamline the planning process for minor improvements or alterations to a property. 

However, it’s important to note that not all developments or building work qualify for permitted development rights. When it comes to solar panel installation, some criteria must be met in order for it to be considered permitted development.

Criteria for Solar Panels as Permitted Development

Solar panels can be considered permitted development if they meet specific criteria. Here are a few key points to consider:

Solar panels are permitted development on houses if they meet these criteria:

  • They are installed on the roof of a dwelling and do not protrude more than 200mm.
  • The appearance of the building, including the roof slope, is considered.
  • The building in question is not flats, maisonettes, or commercial buildings.

It is important to note that permitted development rights for solar panels do not apply to listed buildings or buildings within conservation areas. In these cases, planning permission is required.

Permitted Development Limitations and Constraints

While permitted development rights for solar panels provide flexibility for homeowners, there are limitations and constraints to consider. 

It’s important to remember, for one, that permitted development rights for solar panels may be restricted in designated areas, such as conservation areas and world heritage sites.

Likewise, consent is required for solar panels on listed buildings, as they must not harm the special architectural or historic interest of the building. Solar panel installation on the grounds of a listed building is usually subject to planning consent to preserve the heritage significance.

Indeed, restrictions and regulations for permitted development of solar panels may vary for certain types of properties, such as flats, maisonettes, and private houses.

It is also important to note that planning policies are subject to change, and local planning authorities have the power to impose new constraints that remove permitted development rights in the future.

Why is a Lawful Development Certificate Recommended?

While solar panel installation can be permitted development, it is recommended to obtain a Lawful Development Certificate from the local planning authority (LPA). Here’s why:

  • A Lawful Development Certificate provides legal confirmation that the installation is lawful and complies with permitted development rights or planning permission requirements.
  • It is a formal document issued by the LPA, serving as evidence that the solar panels do not require planning permission.
  • A Lawful Development Certificate may be required for various reasons, including mortgage applications, property sales, or to provide assurance and peace of mind that the installation was done lawfully.

It is important to note that a Lawful Development Certificate is not the same as planning permission, but it helps protect against potential retrospective planning issues.

Ground mounted solar panels

When is Planning Permission Required for Solar Panels?

Planning permission is generally required for solar panels if the installation alters the appearance of your property. This may include your solar panels being installed on the front roof slope or being higher than the highest part of the roof.

Solar panels may require planning permission in certain areas to safeguard the area’s character and aesthetics, particularly for listed buildings to prevent damage to their architectural or historical value. The installation’s impact on the building or its surroundings could necessitate planning consent.

How To Find Out If You Need Planning Permission For Your Solar Panels?

So how can you determine if planning permission is required for your solar panels? There are two options to consider: pre-application and planning appraisal. Both options will provide you with the necessary information to ensure compliance with local regulations before installing solar panels on your property.

Option 1 – Pre-Application

Participating in pre-application can be advantageous for individuals interested in installing solar panels. It allows for conversations to take place, aiding in comprehending the requirements of the local authority and uncovering potential concerns early on. If your local authority provides a pre-application service, this may be a viable choice. 

Architectural drawings and a comprehensive written proposal will be necessary. The fee can amount to £600, and the wait time for a response can be up to 8 weeks. It’s important to note that this response is not legally binding and does not ensure the success of any future application.

Option 2 – Planning Appraisal

On the other hand, a planning appraisal can be conducted by one of our skilled town planners. We perform identical checks to the council, which involve reviewing relevant planning policies, examining the planning history, and identifying any planning limitations at the location. The key distinction is that there is no requirement for architectural drawings or a comprehensive written proposal, and we are capable of providing the answers within a day instead of the potential 8-week wait.

Contact us for a free no-obligation consultation today if you have any questions regarding whether you need planning permission or need help applying for planning permission for your solar panels.

Solar panels planning permission

How do you apply for Planning Permission for Solar Panels? 

Understanding the essential details of planning permission for solar panels, including the new rules for solar panel installation, is crucial for successful application  In particular, ensuring compliance with the local authority regulations is vital. 

For instance, when submitting a planning permission application for solar panels, you must make informed decisions about standalone solar panels’ placement, such as on the rooftop or wall of a private house. You must also consider factors like levelling and distance from boundaries.

Steps to Apply for Planning Permission for Solar Panels

When considering solar panel installation, it’s crucial to first determine if planning permission is necessary. As we’ve already covered, understanding the permitted development rights for solar panels is essential, as well as assessing any impact on the appearance of the building.

Here are the full steps you’ll need to take when submitting a solar panel planning permission application: 

1. Determine if planning permission is required, considering exclusions such as listed buildings, flats, and conservation areas.

2. Gather required information, including details about the installation’s size, location, and potential impacts.

3. Submit the application to the local planning authority, typically online, and pay the required fee.

4. Wait for a decision, which can take weeks or months depending on complexity and workload.

5. If approved, proceed with installation while adhering to specified conditions.

If denied, appeal the decision following the local planning authority’s appeals process, which may include submitting a written appeal and potentially attending a hearing.

Terraced houses with solar panels

Implications of Solar Panel Installation

Solar panel installation can have a significant impact on property value. When implemented, it can increase the value by providing a sustainable energy source. 

Additionally, the environmental benefits of solar panels include reducing carbon footprint and promoting eco-friendly practices in the community. It’s essential to consider the maintenance of solar panels to ensure longevity and optimal performance. 

Let’s look at the implications of solar panel installation in greater detail.

Impact on Property Value

Solar panels can significantly impact property value, with their potential to enhance the appeal of a property and contribute to long-term savings. It’s important to consider the additional load solar panels may place on the roof, ensuring it is structurally capable to support the installation.

Local planning authorities exercise discretion when it comes to solar panel installation, considering factors such as building amenity and permitted development rights. Understanding these aspects is crucial for homeowners looking to embark on solar installation projects, as it helps in making informed decisions that align with local regulations and guidelines.

Environmental Considerations

When considering solar panel installation, it’s crucial to understand the impact on the environment. Additionally, being aware of the associated energy bills and how energy prices affect installation is important.

You should also familiarise yourself with your local planning authority’s discretion and the involvement of the local planning office in this process. These considerations play a significant role in ensuring that your solar panel installation is both beneficial and compliant with local regulations.

Ground mounted solar farm planning permission

Solar Panel Maintenance and Longevity

Solar panel maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and efficiency of your solar PV system. Regular maintenance by a certified installer will help keep the panels clean and functioning optimally.
This includes checking inverters, levelling the panels, and ensuring that the system is free from any damage. It is recommended to have your system checked at least once a year to identify any potential issues early on.

As part of the maintenance, the installer may also provide advice on how to maximise the lifespan of your solar panels.

Maintaining Your Solar Panels

To keep your solar panels in top condition, understanding the necessary maintenance they require is crucial. Additionally, learning about the necessary home insulation for solar panel installation is essential for optimal performance. 

Exploring the amenity of the building and its impact on solar panel installation will help you make informed decisions. By staying informed about these aspects, you can ensure that your solar panel system continues to operate efficiently.

Lifespan of Solar Panels

Likewise, when it comes to the lifespan of solar panels, understanding the necessary information for maintenance is crucial for longevity. Learning about the normal building regulations for installation and exploring the necessary home insulation are essential. 

Understand the role of your local planning authority and their involvement in the process. It’s important to stay informed about the local planning office and their role in solar panel installation.

What Happens if Solar Panels are Installed Without Permission?

Installing solar panels without permission can have serious implications. It’s important to be informed about the necessary information for installation. Local planning authorities have discretion over solar panel installation, and not following building regulations can lead to consequences. Make sure to involve your local planning office before proceeding.

Planning Permission for Solar Panels: the Verdict

In conclusion, the need for planning permission for solar panels depends on various factors such as the location of your property, its size, and any local regulations. It is important to understand the criteria for permitted development and the limitations it may have. 

However, obtaining a lawful development certificate is recommended to ensure compliance and avoid any risks. If you are unsure about whether you need planning permission or not, it is always best to seek professional advice. 

Our team of experts can provide you with the guidance you need. Get in touch with us today to discuss your specific requirements and find out more about the process of installing solar panels.

Grant Singlehurst-Ward

AuthorGrant Singlehurst-WardFOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR

A serial entrepreneur with background in sales and marketing, Grant is the founder and managing director. He founded Planning By Design to provide clients with the highest possible level of service at unbeatable prices.

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