No Planning Permission Needed For Renewables
Environment Minister Alex Attwood has announced that schools, businesses and farm buildings will no longer need planning permission for solar panels and other renewable technologies.
The change relates to microgeneration equipment, including solar panels which generate electricity or heat from sunlight, ground and water source heat pumps, and boiler houses and storage facilities for biomass plants.
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."
There are a number of conditions relating to these exemptions. Full details of the requirements can be found here:-
DO YOUR HOMEWORK . . .
Members should however be cautious about claims made by companies supplying renewable technologies. This week Trading Standards Branch have alleged that some companies have been giving customers misleading or inaccurate information about eligibility criteria for energy saving s, such as the government funded Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme.
Additionally, consumers have reported that they have been misled through the improper use of quality marks and logos for quality assurance schemes such as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Trading Standards has discovered some installer companies are making claims to be certificated by the MCS by displaying the logo on their promotional material and documentation without having gained the necessary authorisation to do so.
There is also the threat of the EU imposing a retrospective tax on all solar panels imported from outside the EU after 5th March 2013. If you're purchasing solar panels make sure that your contract makes the supplier liable for any tax or import duty.
Manufacturing NI's guide to renewabable technologies, Energy Independence can be downloaded from our website:-