The Government is set to pass legislation next week that will exempt most homes and farms from having to applying for local authority planning permission for rooftop solar panels.

The scrapping of the planning permission requirement will allow farmers to cover an unlimited area of shed roof space with solar PV in 98% of the country, while the small minority of farms close to airports will be able to install 300m2 without planning.

These solar safeguarding zones will apply as far out from airports as 5km, but the planning-free limits will be six-times the limits set out in previous planning legislation.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing Peter Burke, who developed the changes in Government, said that farms, homes and businesses can reduce the cost of their electricity bills while boosting the country’s energy security.

"There will be no limit on the number of solar panels you can now erect on your roof without the need for planning permission,” Minister Burke told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“2% of the country is within a solar safeguarding zone, in proximity to an airport, and even within the SSZs you can still have up to 300m2 of solar panels on your roof without the need for planning, which is a significant increase from the previous limit of 50m2.”

“They will help people and businesses 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,” the minister said.

Industry support

The Micro-Renewable Energy Federation chairman Pat Smith welcomed the changes, but stated that an amendment to planning regulations in this area was long overdue.

“Outside of 34 ‘safe solar zones’ across the country, no planning requirement will be necessary for rooftop solar PV installations,” Smith said.

“These revised regulations represent a very welcome and long overdue development, which will remove a further major policy barrier to the widespread adoption of solar energy by homes, farms and businesses up and down the country.”

TAMS budget support

Earlier this week, the Government announced that 2023’s Targeted Agricultural Mechanisation Scheme (TAMS) funding allocation was increased to €90m.

Solar panels are to be grant aided at a rate of 60% for all eligible farmers and solar panel applications will now fall under a standalone investment ceiling of €90,000.

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