Solar panels use energy from the sun to produce water heating (in the case of solar thermal) and electricity (solar photovoltaic). An alternative to conventional solar PV panels are solar roof tiles, which are designed to look similar to normal slate roofing tiles.
Solar panels will need permission in the circumstances set out below.
Where a solar panel is mounted on a house or a block of flats
You only need to apply for householder or full planning permission when the following apply:
- if the panels would protrude more than 20 centimetres from the external surface of the wall or roof slope
- if the highest part of the solar panel or equipment will be higher than the highest part of the roof. This excludes any chimney
- if it would be installed on a wall in a conservation area which faces a highway, including roads, paths and public rights of way
- if your house or flat is or within the garden or grounds (curtilage) of a listed building.
If your house or flat is a listed building, you must also apply for listed building consent.
For a stand-alone solar panel on domestic premises, not fixed to a building
You need only apply for planning permission when any of the following apply:
- more than one stand-alone solar panel would be installed
- it would exceed 4 metres in height
- it would be located 5 metres within the boundary of the property
- it would be installed within the curtilage of a listed building, curtilage refers to the garden or grounds
- it would be located in a conservation area, and any part of the solar installation would be closer to a highway than any part of the house, this includes roads, paths and public rights of way
- the surface area of any stand-alone solar panel will exceed 9 square metres or any dimension of its array (including other equipment) would exceed 3 metres
Your solar panels should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and amenity of the area, for example away from front roof slopes, where possible.
If you are considering installing solar panels to a building in a conservation area or which is listed, Historic England have produced advice on how to plan for solar panels on your property.
If you would like to install solar panels you may be interested in joining the Solar Together scheme.