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, 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 industrial/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.
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.
As part of the Climate Action Plan 2019, my Department is currently undertaking a review of the solar panel exemptions, and is actively engaging with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment as well as other key stakeholders. This review is now largely complete. 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. Included in this review is the potential for extending the solar panel exemptions to educational and community buildings.
The main outstanding issue that remains to be addressed in the current review is the potential for "glint and glare" impacts for aircraft and the need to ensure that they do not result in any real or potential threat to aviation safety. Accordingly, my Department is presently engaging with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment as well as the Irish Aviation Authority, in order to find a safe and workable solution in relation to this particular aspect of the review. It is intended that work on this outstanding issue will be completed in the coming months.
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.