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Scottish Government Eases Planning Restrictions for Solar Energy

Blog by Solar Energy UK member Josh King, Gensource

In this informative article, Gensource delves into the intricacies of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in Scotland. Explore the opportunities and challenges that PDR presents for new construction projects in the region. Join Gensource as they navigate the landscape of PDR and analyse its impact on the future of development in Scotland.

What Has Happened with Permitted Development Rights (PDR)

The Scottish Government has recently announced positive news for homes and businesses looking to install solar. On March 28th a statutory instrument was laid before parliament announcing new measures to help simplify the planning rules. The current changes are the result of phase 3 the Permitted Development Rights (PDR) review, which included rooftop solar installations and ground mounted solar too. Subject to final scrutiny, these changes to the PDR of right for solar installs are expected to come into effect on Friday, 24th May.

The Key Positive Changes

Amongst the most significant changes are the fact that Scottish Government are proposing to remove the current 50kW limit for permitted development on rooftop solar installations. Currently, any rooftop solar PV installation of 50kW (approx. 220 sqm) or greater, must be subject to a full planning application. To put that into context, up until recently the same limit in England was 20x greater at 1MW (4,400 sqm), and this upper limit in England was removed in November last year. So, the great news is that Scotland have followed suit and removed the upper limit. This removes a lengthy and costly process for energy users looking to install solar on roofs.

Other key positive changes include:

  • Conservation areas
    • Whereas previously all rooftop solar in conservation areas required full planning, this will now be relaxed. Solar in conservation areas can be permitted development under certain circumstances, such as not on primary elevations or affronting roads.
  • Flat roofs
    • Previously flat roof installations were restricted by the requirements of not protruding a certain distance above roof surfaces and parapets. Now flat roof systems can be installed under permitted development provided they do not protrude more than 1m from the roof surface.
  • Solar canopies and carports
    • Whilst PDR for car ports was introduced in phase 2 of the PDR review last year, there were restrictions that the energy used for a solar canopy must be primarily used for the purpose of charging vehicles. For those familiar with how distributed energy generation works, this was a counterproductive and wasteful restriction. This restriction has now been removed and car ports can have solar added to them under permitted development.

Space for improvement:

  • Whilst the above is overwhelmingly welcomed news, there is still some room for improvement. One additional change in this announcement was that free-standing solar (such as ground mounted solar panels) would be allowed within the curtilage of a building without a full planning application. Unfortunately, despite the published consultation analysis being fully supportive of allowing larger systems, the Scottish Government have restricted this to 12sqm of surface area. This is a seriously small amount of solar and some might say insignificant development. Hopefully there is still an opportunity for Scottish Government through continued cooperation with Solar Energy Scotland to reconsider.

Impact on energy users

The changes above are a significant step forward for solar panel installations on homes and commercial solar for businesses. It will streamline the development of solar installations, making it much easier to design and install low carbon energy generation.

The information above is a general summary and full details can be found here:

Source: Gensource

About the author Gensource

Gensource specialises in sustainable energy solutions, providing a range of services such as solar power systems and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Their dedicated team prioritises reliability and innovation, delivering tailored solutions to meet clients’ needs. Gensource leads the charge towards a greener future.