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Solar energy planning changes announced in Scotland

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Permitted development rights (PDRs) for rooftop solar energy systems are set to change in Scotland to help reduce energy bills and support the nation’s target of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2045.

Expected to come into effect from Friday 24th May, subject to parliamentary scrutiny, the changes remove the upper limit of 50kW on the majority of domestic and non-domestic buildings, resulting in most rooftop solar projects that are progressed outside of a world heritage site or on listed buildings no longer need planning consent, including many projects that are within conservation areas.

The announcement by Scottish Government has been welcomed by the Chair of Solar Energy Scotland, Savills Director Thomas McMillan, who said:

“We have campaigned for this change for a number of years. Simplifying the planning process for rooftop solar will make a substantial difference to Scotland delivering 6GW of solar by 2030. With energy continuing to be stubbornly high, solar remains one of the most effective ways of reducing the charges of running residential and commercial buildings: this change by the Scottish Government makes the process of installing solar quicker and easier and is warmly welcomed.”

The streamlining of the planning process follows similar changes made in England in November, as well as those relating to historic homes made earlier this year, in order to reduce red tape and boost the levels of solar energy being generated.

In Scotland PDRs have also been introduced for free standing solar panels installed within the space immediately surrounding non-domestic buildings (up to 12sqm). Restrictions have also been eased for solar canopies in car parks, with the systems no longer needing to be primarily for the purpose of powering electric vehicle chargers.

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