Planning permission and building regulations: the rules for solar installations explained
Posted by David Hunt on 14 June 2011 at 9:50 am
Councils asking for planning permission, or building regulations applications for solar panel installations has been much in the press of late. Indeed much of that press has been linked to the campaign by YouGen and ourselves.
The campaign has been picked up and supported by shadow climate change and environment ministers Huw Irranca-Davies and Luciana Berger. Climate change minister Greg Barker has now responded saying he will look into the matter.
The crux of our campaign is that so many councils are interpreting the rules incorrectly, or blatantly ignoring them. So in short, here are the correct rules.
See more recent article: I want to install solar panels on a listed building - how do I proceed?
Since a change in legislation in April 2008, the installation of solar panels has been deemed ‘permitted development’ and therefore planning permission IS NOT required, unless the building is listed, or in a conservation area.
Being in a conservation area does not in itself stop you from an installation. Indeed we have many formally approved installations in conservation areas, including on the road facing roof. But you do need to notify you council and the conservation team of your desire to install. But without any real valid reason permission should be granted.
This is where there has been more of a contentious issue with many types of council not following latest government advice. Most building works you wish to have done to your house are subject to a building regulations application UNLESS you use a contractor/installer that is a member of an approved ‘competent persons’ scheme. In which case the contractor is able to self-certify.
The latest guidelines clearly state that there are a number of ‘competent persons’ schemes eligible for Microgeneration technologies including solar panels. These schemes are also part of the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme). A full and clear guide to all of this is available from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) department and can be found here (clicking this link will download a pdf document). The bottom of page five clearly shows the list of schemes that are eligible, including for example NICEIC.
Just make sure your installer is MSC accredited and a member of one of the listed schemes. And as ever is the case, seek local customer recommendations and check their standing on YouGen.
Ed's note: The following Competent Person Schemes cover installation of microgeneration or renewable technologies: CORGI, HETAS, NAPIT, NICEIC, APHC, BESCA, BSI, ELECSA, OFTEC, STROMA. The first four are also accreditation bodies for the MCS scheme.
About the author: David Hunt was Head of Commercial for Renewable Solutions UK Ltd. He no longer works in the renewable energy sector.
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