The Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke, has published proposed revisions to planning exemptions for the installation of solar panels on the roofs of houses and certain non-domestic buildings, including on farms.

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.

Solar panels

Under the draft regulations, rooftop solar installations covering the entire roof of farm buildings would not require planning permission.

This proposal would also apply to industrial buildings and business premises.

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

These zones, which constitute less than 3% of the country’s land area, aim to address aviation safety concerns due to the potential impact of glint and glare from panels.

Within these zones, which include airports and hospitals with helipads, a planning application will need to be submitted for larger rooftop solar installations.

The draft regulations propose to increase the existing planning exemptions for installing solar panels on rooftops of homes, regardless of their 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.

The proposals also include schools, community and religious buildings.

Minister Burke said that the proposals will help Ireland to meet the targets set out in the government’s Climate Action Plan.

“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 stated.