21 May 2022

Planning exemptions for solar panels are expected by the end of June

Solar panel plans for progressive Donegal primary school 

File pic: Solar panels are set to become a common sight

Planning exemptions for solar panels are expected to be completed and ready by the end of June 2022, Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has confirmed.

This means planning permission will no longer be required for larger installations of solar panels across residential rooftops, farm buildings, schools, community centres and a range of commercial buildings.

Deputy Matthews said; “I have worked consistently with Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Taoiseach to make it easier for people to put solar panels on their roofs by reducing the current planning requirements. I am pleased to get a confirmation date of no later than the end of June for the removal of this unnecessary planning regulation.

“Solar power, in both individual rooftops and at utility-scale, has huge potential in supplying our energy needs and helping to achieve the targets in our Climate Action Plan. The Microgeneration Support Scheme will also allow residents to get paid for excess energy they generate. Payments for excess energy have commenced and the rollout of smart electricity meters to facilitate individuals to ‘feed back’ into the national grid is accelerating.”

Deputy Matthews added; “The overall package of grants, feedback tariffs and ease of planning regulations makes sense in the context of the immediate energy crisis, but also for our longer-term objectives for accelerating our renewable energy objectives and reducing fossil fuel dependency. There is huge potential across every rooftop in Ireland to install solar. This will create thousands of jobs, increase reliability and resilience in our energy supply and lead to a decarbonised future. These measures support key government policies on energy, our transition to Net Zero and will help us to achieve our EU renewable energy targets.”

This announcement comes on the back of a bill brought to the Seanad by the Green Party in June 2021. The Bill introduces planning exemptions to the Planning and Development Regulations, which will allow for the installation of solar panels on public buildings, including schools, without planning permission.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly who brought the bill to the Seanad stated; “I’m delighted to hear a date has been announced for these exemptions. Farms, schools and public buildings need to seek planning permission to install even one solar panel, and this can take months of paperwork and formalities. There are also restrictions on the size and number of panels that can be used, and this means they are too small for the needs of the building. This will open up opportunities for farms, schools and other public buildings to install enough panels to finally power some or all of their electricity needs and to sell any excess electricity that they generate back to the grid.”

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