Permitted development rights have been extended from next month for solar roofs of up to one megawatt, equivalent to about 4000 modules or 8000 square metres of roof space.
Anticipated by the NFU when proposals were published last year, this frees virtually all agricultural PV roofs from the need for planning permission, as promised in the government's 2014 Solar Power Strategy. The NFU responded last September to this consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in collaboration with the Solar Trade Association.
Currently, rooftop solar installations up to 50kW benefit from permitted development and do not need to apply forplanning permission. From 15 April 2015, this will now apply to all building-mounted installations up to 1MW, roughly the size of a large warehouse or distribution centre. The new permitted development rights are subject to 'prior approval', which means that applicants need submit only a written description of the proposed development and a site plan showing the proposed development. Under the '28-day rule', the local planning authority may consider “design or external appearance, in particular the impact of glare on occupiers of neighbouring land.”
Farm businesses already own a substantial proportion of the non-domestic solar rooftops installed in Britain over the past 4-5 years, and it is expected this “NFU success” will significantly enhance the opportunities for farmers and growers to harness the sun and meet their own clean energy needs.