Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on farms which cover the entire roof space are proposed to be exempt from requiring planning permission, Minister of State for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke has announced.

The change is one of a number of revisions to existing planning permission exemptions under consideration by Government and a public consultation has been launched on the issue.

Currently, roof-mounted solar PV systems which do not exceed 50m2 or 50% of the total roof area, whichever is the lesser, are exempt from planning permission.

The move would allow the majority of farmers across the country to install solar PV on their sheds, without planning permission.

Safeguard zones

However, in 43 proposed solar safeguarding zones, the existing exemption of 50m2 or less is proposed to be increased to 60m2 per building.

“These proposed solar safeguarding zones, which constitute less than 3% 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,” the Department of Housing said.

Furthermore, wall-mounted solar PV systems of up to 60m2 would also be exempt from planning permission on farms under the proposals.

Rooftop solar on houses

The changes would also allow houses, regardless of location, to install solar panels on their roofs without any requirement for planning permission.

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

The Department has said that solar installations would be able to cover the entire roof of a house, subject to minor setback distances from the edge of the roof.

The proposed changes are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and national action on climate change.

Climate change

Minister Burke said the changes would help facilitate the rollout of rooftop solar energy across the country.

“They will enable individuals, communities, businesses and farms to play their part in creating a future fuelled by renewable energy and acting against climate change.

“They will help people and businesses to reduce their energy bills and increase Ireland’s energy security, a major challenge given developments in Europe and the need to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” he said.