Schools, businesses and farm buildings in Northern Ireland will no longer need planning permission for solar panels. The change relates to micro-generation equipment, including solar panels which generate electricity or heat from sunlight.
The improvements will come into operation on 30 April 2013 and follow on from permitted development rights previously introduced for the installation of domestic solar panels on homes.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood says: “By removing red tape around having to make a planning application, schools, businesses and farms will be able to enjoy the benefits of solar energy much more easily. For them it will mean cheaper, greener, cleaner energy. A win for consumers and a win for the environment.”
He continues: “Increasing the range of development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for businesses and other non-domestic properties to install renewable energy technologies. Technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, biomass boiler housing and fuel storage containers all contribute to reducing the impact of climate change.”
It is little appreciated that much of Northern Ireland is in a ‘solar belt,’ where the quality of light and sun makes commercial solar feasible.