New Permitted Development Rights for Rooftop Installations

Scotland’s solar energy sector celebrates the removal of planning permission requirements for rooftop solar panels. The Scottish Government’s significant update to permitted development rights (PDRs) for rooftop solar is now in effect. Previously, installations exceeding 50 kW on both domestic and non-domestic buildings required full planning permission.

Boost for Business and Commercial Rooftops

The new regulations significantly benefit business and commercial rooftops, aiding in reducing energy costs. This change follows last year’s budget removal of non-domestic rates for rooftop solar, which the industry had also advocated for. Together, these updates remove substantial barriers to rooftop solar installations.

Thomas McMillan, Chair of Solar Energy Scotland, expressed his approval: “We have championed this change for years. Simplifying the planning process for rooftop solar will be crucial in helping Scotland achieve 6GW of solar capacity by 2030. With persistently high energy costs, solar is one of the most effective solutions for lowering operational costs for both residential and commercial properties. This move by the Scottish Government accelerates and simplifies the installation process, which is warmly welcomed.”

Flat Roof and Conservation Area Solar Installations

Flat roof systems can now be installed without planning permission, provided they do not exceed 1m in height from the roof surface. Even in conservation areas, solar installations can proceed under certain conditions, such as not being on primary elevations or facing roads. World Heritage sites and listed buildings, however, are exempt from these changes.

Solar Energy Scotland has long advocated for these updates. The new rules eliminate expensive, time-consuming bureaucracy, speeding up the deployment of rooftop solar panels. This helps Scotland meet its climate goals and solar energy targets, and provides consumers and businesses with easier access to cheaper energy.

Alignment with England’s PDR Guidelines

Scotland and England have both removed the upper limit for PDR guidelines. While there are some differences based on building types, adhering to each nation’s regulations will prevent planning violations.

Additional Changes to Solar Regulations

Other updates include allowing free-standing solar panels within the curtilage of non-domestic buildings up to 12sqm and relaxed restrictions for solar canopies. Previously, solar canopies were required to primarily power Electric Vehicle chargers, a constraint seen as unnecessary by the industry. Discussions with the Scottish Government continue regarding the possibility of extending the curtilage limit beyond 12sqm in the future.

The legislative changes, effective from May 24, 2024, mark a significant step forward for Scotland’s solar energy landscape, promising to expedite solar panel installations and support the nation’s transition to renewable energy.