sustainable thinking



Planning barriers dropped for large solar rooftop schemes

Government unveils proposals that would see systems up to 1MW approved automatically in most circumstances

By BusinessGreen staff

04 Aug 2014

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The solar industry has welcomed plans to ease planning permission requirements for roof-top photovoltaic (PV) projects with up to 1MW in capacity.

Planning permission is not currently required for solar schemes of up to 50kW in size in most circumstances under the permitted development rule. But according to a consultation published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) last week the government now intends to extend the more relaxed planning rules to systems that are up to 20 times larger.

The government is keen to recalibrate support for solar PV away from large ground-mounted arrays towards commercial rooftop systems.

As a result ministers proposed changes to subsidy mechanisms to cut support for solar farms, but the industry has accused ministers of failing to offer improved support for rooftop solar arrays, pointing to the fact only 65MW of rooftop solar PV schemes in the 50kW to 5MW band were built from June 2013 to June 2014.

Industry body the Solar Trade Association (STA) has also called for permitted development for larger solar thermal schemes, which take longer to plan and install, and as a result have seen investment detered due to planning obstacles.

"We are pleased to see government is taking an important step to help deliver the strong solar PV roof-top market set out as a key objective in the Solar Strategy," said STA chief executive Paul Barwell in a statement.

"Solar power enjoys the highest levels of public support and it is an attractive addition to many warehouses, supermarkets and commercial buildings. However, the very poor levels of large roof-top deployment show that much more needs to be done to put the promised 'rocket boosters' under this market."

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