Just like any other major home improvement, solar panels are only permitted for installation provided that certain requirements are met. These standards and regulations are in place to reduce the risk of your solar array becoming an issue or potential hazard further down the line.
In April 2008, solar panels were designated ‘Permitted Development’, meaning that planning permission is no longer necessary. The only exceptions to this are:
- Your house is a listed building
- Your house is situated within a conservation area
It is possible to receive planning permission in these cases, but this is at the discretion of your Local Planning Authority.
Aside from this, solar panels are subject to normal building regulations, which involves checking that the roof can support the extra load – your MCS-certified installer will this check for you.
Rules for fitting Solar PV to your roof
- A solar array should not exceed the highest point of the roof (excluding any chimney)
- Solar panels should not project more than 200mm off the edge of the roof
- Once they are no longer used for generating electricity, the panels should be removed from the roof.
- Solar panels must be fitted in a way that minimizes the change in appearance of the building and the area.
If your solar installation is to be installed within your land but not attached to your house:
- The first standalone solar PV installation is considered Permitted Development. Beyond that, any additional units will require planning permission.
- The solar panels must be sited in a way that least impacts the appearance of the area, and at least 5 meters from the edge of your property.
- The system must not stand taller than 4m, and must not exceed an area 9m².
Connecting to the Grid
The Distribution Network Operator (DNO) must be notified about any installation of solar PV. Solar setups with a Declared Net Capacity (the estimated output of the installation after any losses through inverters and wiring etc.) of 3.68kW and below will be notified via G83/2 after the system has been commissioned. Anything larger than 3.68kW must be through G59 notification before any installation work begins. The DNO must give permission for these larger systems to be installed.
Do I need to check all this myself?
It is for the MCS contractor to notify the DNO, not the customer. An MCS contractor will also confirm that your solar setup meets all the aforementioned requirements before the installation commences.
There are further rules that apply for installing solar panels in Scotland; planning permission is required if they are to be installed onto the wall of a block of flats or on a flat roof. Contact your local planning office for more information if this applies to you.