I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together.
Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission. Section 4 of the Act and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, set out various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission. Any such exemptions are subject to compliance with any general restrictions on exemptions set out in the Act or the Regulations and to the specific conditions set out in each class of exempted development in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.
With regard to exemptions for solar panels, Class 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection of a solar panel on, or within the curtilage of a house or any buildings within the curtilage of a house", subject to certain siting and size conditions.
Class 56 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection on or within the curtilage of an industrial building, or any ancillary buildings within the curtilage of an industrial building, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo- voltaic)", subject to specific conditions. Additional exemptions also exist under Class 56 for business premises and light industrial buildings.
Furthermore, Class 18 of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection on an agricultural structure, or within the curtilage of an agricultural holding, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo-voltaic)", again subject to a number of conditions.
Exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of specific forms of development are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development.
My Department is currently undertaking a review of the solar panel exemptions, in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other key stakeholders, with a view to bringing forward amending Regulations, as may be required - for example, to reflect technical developments in the sector - in the latter part of 2019. As required under the Planning code, any such proposed exempted development regulations must be laid in draft form before the Oireacthas and receive a positive resolution from both Houses before they can be made.
Matters relating to energy policy, such as allowing for energy generated from solar panels to be directed towards back into the national grid, fall outside the scope of the planning system and are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.