Do We Need Planning for Solar Panels in Northern Ireland – All You Need To Know 2023

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Do We Need Planning for Solar Panels in Northern Ireland – All You Need To Know 2023

In 2030, the Irish government wants 80 percent of the total electricity generated from renewable sources. 2020 witnessed the use of renewable energy for 49.3% of total electricity production, with wind power contributing 86% of this total.

Nevertheless, a renewed approach is now being made to solar-powered energy generation due to the European Commission’s public statement that all new facilities would be required to have solar panels as part of their brand-new “Solar Rooftop Initiative.”

We decided there was no better opportunity than right now to explore the advantages of solar panels and evaluate if we need to plan for solar panels in Northern Ireland since Ireland’s first solar panel farm has just been constructed.

What Are Solar Panels, and How Do They Work?

Photovoltaic cells, which are used to build solar panels, turn the solar energy generated by the sun into electricity. Layers of semi-conducting elements, like silicon, are layered between photovoltaic cells. Each layer has distinct electronic features that become functional when photons from sunlight contact them, producing an electric field.

Electricity generated by solar panels is in direct current form. This is then put through a converter to turn it into an alternating current that can be consumed by the building or structure that the solar panels are placed on or supplied to the National Grid. The photoelectric effect, which is what it is called, is what generates the necessary current for electricity production.

Solar panels can create energy even during the winter because they rely solely on the brightness of the light to accomplish this. Additionally, this suggests that the solar panels could still produce energy on foggy days and therefore do not necessarily require direct sunshine.

Do You Require Planning Permission to Set Up Solar Panels?

Do We Need Solar Panel Planning in Northern Ireland? The government’s increased permitted development rights mean that non-domestic buildings can now have solar PV or solar thermal systems placed without obtaining a planning permit. Solar panels’ planning permission may be avoided if they are recognized as “Permitted Development.” There are several exceptions to this; see the list below.

Yet, in general, you do not require planning approval to put solar panels on a commercial property, given that you follow the basic rules. When working with commercial properties, it is critical to remember that there are frequently ownership and planning issues to be aware of.

In both cases, Solar panels should meet specific building standards, which helped ensure that the roof could take the extra weight. Your installer must complete this evaluation for you. Your solar panel system must also fulfill the following requirements:

  • The system must be built with the least likely effects on the area’s facilities and exterior.
  • Equipment must be taken down as soon as it is no longer required.
  • System height is restricted to the roof’s highest point (except for any chimney).
  • The system cannot reach farther than 0.2 meters from the level of the roof slope.

What Circumstances Require Planning Permission?

  • On flat roofs: On a flat roof, you’ll require planning permission to install solar panels. Since solar panels on flat roofs are generally installed in frames to make an angle with the sun, this is the cause of the problem. This implies that they should usually extend more than 0.2 meters over the roof slope, which goes against the “permitted development” rules.
  • Listed Buildings: Although it may be permissible to put solar panels on a building situated within the grounds of a listed property or on a place regarded as a designated monument. After the application for planning permission, it needs listed building consent.
  • Conservation Areas: It could be permitted to install a solar PV system if you stay in a conservation area thanks to allowed development rights. Still, if you intend to place a solar PV system on a wall that faces a highway, you’ll have to submit a planning application.

Even though it is up to your local planning authority, it is feasible to get planning permission under certain circumstances. Planning can be a tough process, so depending on where you live, additional issues could prevent installing solar panels, such as limits on your property. It is generally a good idea to double-verify with your local authority before putting solar panels on your home.

Advantages of Having Solar Panels

  • In the UK, solar installations total 14.6 GW, more than four times the size of the country’s largest fossil fuel power plant.
  • The panels can be set up in various places, from huge solar farms in the countryside that can promote regional biodiversity by giving an untouched environment for bees, butterflies, and nesting birds to rooftop panels in urban centers that can battle fuel poverty.
  • While producing electricity, they don’t produce any noise pollution. This implies that installations are not disruptive in busy urban areas or calm rural areas.
  • Solar panels are secure. Since silicon sheets comprise most of them, there is no chance that the photovoltaic cells will leak or release toxins or pollutants.

Government Grants for Solar Panels

Sadly, Northern Ireland’s government does not offer any solar power systems grants. Due to the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation, which legally required them to provide a specific percentage of renewable energy in addition to the rest of their power generation, the government previously obliged suppliers to acquire green energy from homeowners with solar panels.


Solar panels, according to Money Saving Expert experts, can help you reduce your energy bills while also earning you money. Besides that, solar panels can generate considerable electricity even on cloudy days.

Do we need to plan for solar panels in Northern Ireland? Solar panel installation is usually a simple process; however, there could be occasions when you require planning permission and the help of a planning  consultant. However, given that solar panels typically cost £6,500, there are a few things to consider before deciding whether the numbers add up.

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