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Renewable Energy Generation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 10 March 2021

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Questions (117)

Réada Cronin

Question:

117. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will liaise with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to remove the planning restrictions and therefore financial barriers to schools that wish to use solar panels and contribute to the Just Transition of energy within Ireland’s climate need and commitments; and if so, the speed with which schools can expect such removal and assistance given the urgent circumstances of climate change. [12762/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Planning policy is a matter for the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. My Department, under Action 30 of the Climate Action Plan, has engaged extensively with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to review the existing planning exemptions for rooftop solar PV micro-generation. That Department has agreed to update the existing exemptions that will include provision for apartments, community and educational buildings including schools and expect that these interim regulations will be completed and submitted to the relevant Oireachtas Committee in Quarter 2 this year.

These regulations will need to be accompanied by Aviation Safeguarding Maps related to the construction of solar installations in the vicinity of aviation sites including heli-pads, aerodromes and major airports.  In recognition of the length of time that it is expected to take to complete the aviation safeguarding maps, the Department of Housing has decided to adopt the interim measure outlined above which would allow the revised regulations to be introduced prior to the completion of these maps, but with defined exclusion zones around airports and aerodromes for solar installations.The overall process for updating the solar panel planning exemptions to include the completed aviation safeguarding maps for airports and aerodromes  along with the finalized Statutory Instrument will be brought through the legislative process as provided for under section 262(4) of the Planning and Development Act requiring the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas, which it is anticipated will be completed later in 2021.

A Micro-Generation working group, chaired by my Department, is developing an enabling framework for micro-generation which tackles existing barriers and establishes suitable supports within relevant market segments. The proposed support mechanism was outlined in a public consultation (now closed) last month and the submissions received are currently being reviewed.

The Programme for Government commits to prioritising the development of micro-generation of electricity primarily for self-consumption, and a suitable payment for excess electricity generated on site and exported to the grid will be available to all micro-generators in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory arrangements, in line with Articles 21 and 22 of the recast Renewable Energy Directive.

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