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Government waives planning permission for commercial rooftop solar

Secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles has announced that the permitted development threshold for rooftop solar panels on commercial property will be increased from 50KW to 1MW.

This means that as long as certain requirements are fulfilled, there will be no need to apply for planning permission. This includes both solar PV and solar thermal installations.

Currently, solar installations up to 50kW benefit from permitted development and do not need to go through planning permission.

This will now apply to all installations up to 1MW, which is about the roof size of a large warehouse or distribution centre – or roughly the size of the average football pitch.

STA business analyst David Pickup said: “Extending the threshold from 50kW to 1MW is a boost for commercial solar. So many warehouses, factories and offices could save money on their energy bills by having solar PV on their roofs.”

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

She added: “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.

“Increasing the threshold before a full planning application is required for a solar installation is a simple but effective step that will lift the shackles from the sector and help developers avoid uncertainty in terms of degression of Feed-in Tariff rates.”

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