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07 Jul 2022

Public consultation announced regarding exemptions for rooftop solar panels in Kildare

Public consultation announced regarding exemptions for rooftop solar panels in Kildare

File pic. The announcement comes from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

A government Minister has today published potential revisions to the existing planning exemptions for proposed solar panels on the roofs of houses and certain buildings in Kildare.

The Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, said that the changes could also be brought in for certain non-domestic buildings across the rest of the country.

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. 

Commenting on the draft regulations, the Fine Gael politician said: "These draft regulations will help facilitate the rollout of rooftop solar energy across Kildare.

"They will enable individuals, communities, businesses and farms in the county to play their part in creating a future fueled by renewable energy and acting against climate change, and they will help people and businesses in Kildare to reduce their energy bills and increase Ireland’s energy security.

He added: "(This is) a major challenge given developments in Europe and the need to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels."

Under the draft regulations, the following is proposed:

For solar panel installations on houses

It is proposed to increase the existing planning exemptions for installing solar panels on rooftops of homes, regardless of their geographical location. 

Solar installations will be able to cover the entire roof of a house, subject to minor setback distances from the edge of the roof.

For solar panel installations on rooftops of all other existing classes of development (Industrial; Light Industrial and Business Premises; Agricultural)

Rooftop solar installations covering the entire roof are proposed to be exempt from requiring planning permission.

However, in 43 proposed solar safeguarding zones, the existing exemption of 50 square metres or less is proposed to be increased to 60 square metres per building.

These proposed solar safeguarding zones, which constitute less than 3 per cent of the country’s land area, are necessary to address aviation safety concerns due to the potential impact of glint and glare arising from increased solar developments in proximity to sites such as airports and hospitals (which have helipads).

Anyone seeking to avail of larger rooftop solar installations within solar safeguarding zones can apply for planning permission.

Apartments — educational/community/religious/health/recreational buildings and libraries: 

For the first time, it is proposed to exempt the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of such buildings from requiring planning permission, subject to conditions and the rooftop area limit in proposed solar safeguarding zones.  

Exemptions for wall-mounted and free-standing solar panel installations: free-standing solar panel installations for houses are exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission subject to a 25 square metre area limit and conditions requiring a certain amount of private open space to be maintained for the use of occupants.

The exempted area for all other categories except apartments is proposed to be increased to 60 square metres.  

In addition, wall mounted solar installations of 60 square metres will also be exempted for industrial and agricultural buildings.

Commenting further on the proposed changes, Minister Burke said: "Houses, regardless of location, will soon be able to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission, which I know will be very welcome to many homeowners.  

"Draft proposals for community/educational/religious buildings will also give institutions in Kildare such as schools a greater opportunity to reduce their energy bills.

"By proposing these increased exemptions we are bringing exemptions into line with our renewables ambitions and helping people in Kildare to play their part in climate action and to reduce their energy bills."

He concluded: "In finalising these regulations we will implement an important commitment in the Programme for Government and will help us meet the targets set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan."

Further information on the upcoming consultation can be found here.

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