By Joe Barrett
Housing, Local Government and Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien has passed legislation, with immediate effect, that homes, regardless of their location in Laois, can now install unlimited solar panels on their roofs without any building permit requirements (subject to certain conditions).
The law also provides that exemptions also apply to the roofs of industrial buildings, professional premises, community and school buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries, certain public utility sites and farms. agricultural.
However, certain restrictions continue to apply, including development near certain aviation sites, protected structures and architectural conservation areas.
The Minister said the new regulations aim to bring Ireland into line with the EU’s Solar Rooftop Initiative by shortening and simplifying permit procedures for installing solar panels on rooftops.
Minister O’Brien said: “With these new exemptions, we are removing barriers and ensuring that individuals, communities, businesses and farms in Laois can generate their own electricity, lower their own bills and play their part. in creating a zero-carbon future powered by renewable energy. These changes will make it easier to deploy rooftop solar panels across Laois and, together with the government-backed SEAI Solar PV grant, will enable more people to install solar panels across the county. This has the added benefit of increasing Ireland’s energy security, a major challenge given current energy pressures. These regulations implement an important commitment to the government’s agenda and will help Ireland achieve the goals of the government’s climate action plan.
Under the revised regulations, the following is now allowed:
- For solar panel installations on Laois homes: There is no limit to the area of solar panels that can be installed on the roofs of houses, anywhere in the county. Solar installations can cover the entire roof of a house. The 12m²/50% roof limit that previously applied to homes has been removed nationwide.
- For rooftop solar panel installations of all other existing development classes (Industrial; Industrial & Commercial; Agricultural) in Laois: Rooftop solar installations covering the entire roof are exempt from planning permission. However, in the 43 designated sun protection zones, a limit on rooftops remains. Solar protection zones are areas where limitations apply on the roofs of solar panel installations, in order to mitigate the potential impact of reflections and glare near airports, airfields and other sites. equipped with helipads like hospitals. The existing exemption of 50 square meters or less for the entire development has been increased to a roof limit of 300 square meters.
- Apartments; school building / health center or hospital / recreational or sports equipment / place of worship / equipment or community center / library / certain sites of public utility in Laois: Exemptions have been introduced for the first time for the installation of solar panels on the roofs of these buildings, subject to conditions and limitations and the roof area limit in sun protection zones, where applicable.
- Exemptions for wall-mounted and freestanding solar panel installations in Laois: Stand-alone solar panel installations for homes are exempt from the requirement to obtain a building permit subject to an area limit of 25 square meters and conditions requiring that a certain amount of private free space be maintained for the use of the occupants. The area exempted for all other categories except apartments is increased to 75 square meters. In addition, solar wall installations of 75 square meters are exempt for industry and agriculture.
The derogations relating to the installations referred to in points 1-2 and 3 are subject, among other things, to minor setback distances from the edge of the roof. Items 1-4 above are also subject to general restrictions on exempt development, including those relating to protected structures and architectural conservation areas.
Copies of the Planning and Development (Exempt Development) Act 2000 (No. 3) Regulations 2022 and the Planning and Development (Solar Safeguard Area) Regulations 2022 will be available on the Irish website Statute Book. Sun protection zones are also available for viewing on myplan.ie