Boost for solar energy in Northern Ireland
Planning relaxes for Schools & farm buildings
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced that schools, businesses and farm buildings will no longer need planning permission for solar panels.
The change relates to microgeneration equipment, including solar panels which generate electricity or heat from sunlight.
The improvements will come into operation on 30 April 2013 and follow on from permitted development rights previously introduced for the installation of domestic solar panels on homes.
Alex Attwood said: “This is a good boost for a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland. By removing red tape around having to make a planning application, schools, businesses and farms will be able to enjoy the benefits of solar energy much more easily. For them it will mean cheaper, greener, cleaner energy. A win for consumers and a win for the environment.
“Increasing the range of development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for businesses and other non-domestic properties to install renewable energy technologies. Technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, biomass boiler housing and fuel storage containers all contribute to reducing the impact of climate change.
“It is also little appreciated that much of Northern Ireland is in a ‘solar belt,’ where the quality of light and sun makes commercial solar feasible. I want to see domestic and commercial solar grow. Renewables can be one of, if not our biggest economic opportunity.”
Trevor Dornan from East Belfast Mission’s Skainos Square said: “Skainos had solar panels installed at the design stage of the build and we are really reaping the benefits. Solar energy makes sense for the environment and for our business – we have reduced electricity/heating bills and harnessing the sun’s energy fits with our organisation’s overall green aims to reduce, reuse and recycle. I encourage other organisations to install solar panels and I believe that removing the need for planning permission will make the process easier, quicker and more economical.”
The Minister concluded: “The extension of these permitted development rights will complement my ongoing planning reforms and help promote a speedier and more cost effective and responsive service to everyone.”