Does the fitting of solar panels require planning permission?
While the majority of domestic solar panels do not require permission, there are some exceptions which are dictated by government rules. It is then up to local councils to make planning decisions.
The government state that for roof mounted solar panels, planning permission will need to be sought if there is a protrusion of more than 200mm. For free standing panels, permission will need to be sought if they are more than 4 meters in height, installed less than 5 meters away from any boundary or have an area of above 9m. For both types, it is especially likely that planning permission will be necessary if houses are listed buildings or in conservation areas.
When planning permission is necessary, a chief consideration is how panels will affect their surroundings. Last year, Tim and Lucy Harding of Hove gained planning permission for their roof panels but after fitting them were ordered to move them so they were flat against the roof, in strict accordance with the original plans. This was because the were causing unacceptable amounts of glare into a neighbouring property.
Steven McLean has also encountered planning difficulty with his solar panels that are part of his attempt to make his Brighton house ‘zero energy’. In November, a second set of proposals which had been modified from his original plans, (rejected two months earlier) were also rejected by Brighton and Hove Council planning committee. This was despite receiving approval from planning advisers. The grounds of rejection was that the panels would make the house look cluttered. In December a certificate of lawfulness was obtained for solar panels for the property for plans submitted in September, however, this does not constitute planning permission. Mr McLean continues to contest the planning refusal, believing that his case represents irrational antipathy towards green energy initiatives rather than being a simple aesthetic dispute.