Red tape to be removed for installation of solar panels on farms and schools, confirms Steven Matthews TD
Green Party TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Steven Matthews, has confirmed today (29 September) that the committee has approved recommendations for planning exemptions for solar panel installations which will allow the Minister to sign the exemptions into law early next week.
This will mean that planning permission will no longer be required to put solar panels across residential rooftops, farm buildings, schools, community centres and a range of commercial buildings.
Deputy Matthews said;
“Despite several delays over the past year, I’m delighted to see these proposals confirmed by the committee today which will remove an unnecessary cost and complexity currently that comes with installing solar panels on private and community buildings. Following referral to the Dáil next week I expect the exemptions to be in place within a number of days. The demand for homegrown, renewable energy has never been so high, given the context of today’s fossil fuel crisis and soaring energy costs, so these exemptions cannot come into place soon enough. Solar power makes sense, it works well in our Irish climate, it saves money, has a short payback time and it provides secure energy for homes and businesses."
The draft regulations underwent the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, and the environmental report and draft regulations were published for a 4-week public consultation.
Deputy Matthews continued;
“Solar power, in both individual rooftops and at utility scale, has huge potential in supplying our energy needs, offsetting costs and helping to achieve the targets in our Climate Action Plan. The Microgeneration Support Scheme which kicked in this summer, now also allows residents to get paid for excess energy they generate. This will create thousands of jobs, increase reliability and resilience in our energy supply and lead to a decarbonised future. These measures support key government policies on energy, our transition to Net Zero and will help us to achieve our EU renewable energy targets.”
These exemptions come on the back of a bill brought to the Seanad by the Green Party in June 2021. The Bill introduces planning exemptions to the Planning and Development Regulations, which will allow for the installation of solar panels on public buildings, including schools, without planning permission.
Senator Pauline O’Reilly stated;
“I’m delighted to see this progress and look forward to the recommendations being approved in the coming days. The current situation is untenable for many, with farms, schools and public buildings needing to seek planning permission to install even one solar panel. This can take months of paperwork and formalities. There are also restrictions on the size and number of panels that can be used, and this means they are too small for the needs of the building. This will open up opportunities for farms, schools and other public buildings to install enough panels to finally power some or all of their electricity needs and to sell any excess electricity that they generate back to the grid.”
Senator Róisín Garvey, Green Party Spokesperson for Rural Development, Enterprise, Trade and Employment added;
“Sustainable energy and a stable source of income for farmers, community groups and individuals alike can finally become a reality. In addition to today’s critical progress on planning exemptions, Minister Eamon Ryan last week announced new solar PV grants for businesses, public organisations and community groups as well as this week’s budget announcement that every school in Ireland will get free solar panels. The rooftop revolution is truly underway in Ireland.”
The demand for homegrown, renewable energy has never been so high, given the context of today’s fossil fuel crisis and soaring energy costs, so these exemptions cannot come into place soon enough.