Planning Permission

Changes to the permitted development rights for renewable technologies were implemented in England and Scotland in 2008 and 2009. The changes were part of a large-scale government effort to make domestic microgeneration technologies more accessible, both financially and legally, for homeowners. Householders in England and Scotland now face fewer requirements for planning permission when installing most types of domestic microgeneration technology.

Under the General Permitted Development Order or the Town and Country Planning Amendment, homeowners can install the following microgeneration technologies in their homes without having to apply for planning permissions:

Solar PV and Solar Thermal:

Roof-mounted solar PV and solar thermal systems are permitted, provided the panels used in the systems comply with specific size and placement regulations. Panels must protrude less than 200mm from the roof when installed, and must not be installed facing towards or visible from highways. The second requirement only applies to buildings located in Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites.

Standalone solar PV and solar thermal systems face different planning requirements. They do not require planning permission unless they are greater than four metres in height, larger than nine square metres in surface area, installed within five metres of any boundary of the homeowner’s property, or visible from highways within Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites.

Biomass Boilers and Stoves:

Biomass boilers and stoves have relatively few regulations, and are largely exempt from planning permissions. However, they require planning permission if the flue extends more than one metre from the roof, or if they are installed in a location that is visible from a roadway within a Conservation Area or World Heritage Site.

Heat Pumps:

Ground source and water source heat pumps are permitted without any planning permission. Air source heat pumps currently require planning permission, although legislation is expected in the future that will allow them to be installed without planning permission. In order to install an air source heat pump, you will need to speak to your local authority to acquire planning permission.

Planning Permission Outside England and Scotland:

The changes to permitted development rights for renewable technologies introduced in 2008 and 2009 currently only apply to England and Scotland. Wales and Northern Ireland are in the process of considering changes to permitted developments legislation, but current developments require local planning permission.

You can learn more about planning permissions and building regulations in England and Wales at the government’s Planning Portal.

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