03 Jul 2022

EDITORIAL: Solar panel planning review very welcome

It makes sense to make the process of installing solar panels on buildings much more straight forward

Solar panels to be installed at school in Waterford following planning approval

Solar panels installation is to be made simpler in the planning process

The proposed revisions to the existing planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels on the roofs of houses and certain non-domestic buildings in Tipperary and elsewhere in the country have been published this week and are very welcome.

It basically means that:
*Houses, regardless of location, will soon be able to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission.
*Exemptions proposed for the first time for solar rooftops of homes and buildings like community and educational buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries and farms.
*Exemptions for certain wall-mounted and free-standing solar panel installations proposed to be increased to 60 square metres.

These proposed changes would seem to make perfect sense. In order to make it attractive for the take-up of solar panel installation and the drive towards sustainability and the use of renewable energy sources, it must be made simple and straight forward. Cutting through the planning red tape will be a big help in this regard.

Much like the home retrofit scheme which the government is promoting very strongly, the move towards greater utilisation of solar energy must be viable for those being targeted; must be economical; and must be fool-proof as an energy solution.

Solar energy would seem to be a no-brainer as an alternative to fossil fuels and if more and more domestic, light commercial and industrial/agricultural roofs can be utilised for the generation of energy, then brilliant.

A public consultation as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process is now open and will run until July 13. The proposed changes are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and national action on climate change. It’s good news.

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