Restrictions on solar panels have been lifted as owners are now free to install as many as they wish

APARTMENTS and other buildings no longer require planning permission for solar panels, except when located near airports and some emergency facilities.

New rules, which could be signed as early as next week, will lift current restrictions that require planning permission for panels larger than 12 square meters in homes and 50 square meters in businesses.

This means that property owners can install as much solar as they wish, provided building safety regulations are observed.

The only other restrictions apply to properties in 43 “sun protection zones” across the country, where glare and glare from panels could pose a risk to aircraft.

Ten 5 km zones have been designated around airports and airfields, while 3 km zones have been designated in 33 locations around heliports and emergency and military installations.

In these zones, which cover about 2 percent of the country, up to 300 square meters of solar panels can be installed without planning permission, but beyond that, permission must be sought and possibly refused.

Details of the zones’ locations and boundaries are to be published on the government’s website,

The new rules were presented to the TDs and Senators of the Oireachtas Housing and Planning Committee this morning by Planning Secretary Peter Burke.

Secretary Burke said he hoped they would be officially approved next week. Committee members said there was bipartisan support for them.

The rules follow a move in recent weeks to open solar panel grant support to small businesses, schools, community groups and institutions.

Rising electricity prices and the introduction of “microgeneration” schemes, where homeowners can be paid for excess solar power to feed into the national grid, have also increased interest in solar energy.

However, committee members raised the issue of cost but said the grants were small compared to the initial outlay of installing solar panels.

Secretary Burke said he would raise the issue with his government colleagues, but said removing planning permission for 98 percent of the country would remove some of the initial costs for many property owners.

As has always been the case, some restrictions will still apply when properties are classified as architecturally or historically significant, but Secretary Burke said it would still be possible for many to install panels where they would detract from the character of the building. Restrictions on solar panels have been lifted as owners are now free to install as many as they wish

Fry Electronics Team

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