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Planning permission for solar panels lifted

New rules allow businesses to install up to 4,000 solar panels on their rooftop without requiring planning permission and transfer them to new properties without subsidy disruption from 2019.

New rules allow businesses to install up to 4,000 solar panels on their rooftop without requiring planning permission and transfer them to new properties without subsidy disruption from 2019.

The government changes make it far easier for companies to install solar PV on their premises and allows them to continue to receive the government feed-in tariff (FiT) incentive when moving to a new property.

Under previous rules, installations over 50kW or 200 PV panels in size required planning permission, and relocating to a new property meant that businesses were unable to continue receiving FiT payments for their on-site electricity generation.

Planning permission

The threshold for planning permission has now been raised to 1MW, equivalent to 4,000 panels, making it easier for businesses to install larger solar arrays.  

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said that it the move would “make it much easier for factories, farms, hospitals, bus stations and other commercial buildings to generate their own sustainable energy while also saving themselves money and resources.

“Solar installed on commercial buildings has the potential to generate significant amounts of clean electricity, yet it is a considerably underdeveloped area, and the rigidity of the planning system has long been a major barrier to its progress,” she added.

Subsidy transfer

The decision to allow businesses to transfer their FiTs subsidy to a new property from 2019 comes after a government consultation with industry. 

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, welcomed the move, saying: “To obtain financing on better terms and reduce investment risk, it is so important for businesses to be able to take their solar installations with them if they move.”

The transferability will apply to building-mounted solar arrays larger than 50kW and is due to introduced in legislation later this year.