The Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) has welcomed the publication of new planning regulations which will effectively exempt rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on the roofs of businesses, homes and farms from the requirement to obtain planning approval.

The long-awaited changes are aimed at increasing Ireland’s generation of solar energy and helping to meet climate change targets.

The draft regulations would bring Ireland into line with the EU’s Solar Rooftops Initiative by making the process for installing solar rooftops shorter and simpler.

A public consultation as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process is now open and will run until July 13.

Commenting, MREF chairman, Pat Smith said: “The publication of these new regulations follows four years of campaigning by the microgeneration sector and are an important development in Ireland’s climate action journey.

“If we are serious about embracing renewable energy as a primary energy source, we need to support businesses, homes and farms with practical measures to allow them to install solar PV on the roofs of their buildings.

“Planning requirements have been a major barrier to much wider adoption of renewable power, and solar energy in particular.”

The MREF chair added that the new regulations will help remove this barrier for most installations and has urged that they be enacted without any further delays.

“These new regulations will also help ensure that Ireland joins with other European states in demonstrating its real commitment to climate action and practical support in the shift to renewable power,” he said.

Smith said that the members of the MREF are meeting this week to consider the draft regulations in detail.

“MREF will review and respond to Minister [of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter] Burke on the new regulations early next week,” he continued.

“The focus now needs to shift to urgent implementation of the new regulations and continuing support for the microgeneration sector so that Ireland can deliver on the enormous potential we have for renewable power generation across the country.”