Thursday, 5 March 2020

Questions (1199, 1249)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1199. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to update planning regulations in respect of solar panel installations on houses and public buildings; if the potential in the removal of the need to obtain planning permission in order to install solar panels on public buildings if the building will harvest energy for use from the installations will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2887/20]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

1249. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the amendments to planning regulations to allow for the installation of rooftop solar panels on schools, community buildings, homes and businesses without planning permission have not yet been published in view of the fact it was outlined in the Climate Action Plan and due by the end of quarter 4 of 2019. [3742/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1199 and 1249 together.

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), 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 (the Regulations), 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 a business premises or light industrial building, or any ancillary buildings within the curtilage of such premises or building, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo-voltaic), subject to certain siting and size conditions. In general, public buildings are considered to fall within this class and, as such, may utilise the existing exemption. There also exist further exemptions relating to the installation of solar panels on industrial buildings and in agricultural holdings, again subject to certain siting and size conditions. 

My Department is currently undertaking a review of the solar panel exemptions set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations, and is actively engaging with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other key stakeholders, with a view to finalising a proposal for draft amending Regulations - to reflect, inter alia, technical developments in the sector. One of the key considerations of the review is to ensure that solar panels can be erected - subject to certain siting and size conditions - without the need to obtain planning permission, to facilitate the generation of energy for self-consumption.

As required under planning legislation, any such proposed exempted development regulations must be laid in draft form before the Houses of the Oireachtas and receive a positive resolution from both Houses before they can be made. The draft regulations will also be subject to environmental reporting considerations before being finalised and signed into force.