Solar Power Planning Approvals
Everything you need to know about planning permissions.
Who needs planning permission?
Certain solar installations require planning permissions and Solar Star Power have a long association with Bruce Johnson of B3 Architects who has an over 95 percent approvals ra
Generally the regulations are:
The installation of solar panels on a roof or wall of a private house is considered to be permitted development (i.e. It does not require planning permission) provided that:
Solar Panels are not be installed above the ridgeline and should project no more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface. Note: these conditions will be satisfied if panels are mounted parallel to the roof on a sloping roof. They are unlikely to be satisfied if the panels are mounted on a flat roof, since in this case the panels will be mounted at a minimum 5-10 degree slope to the horizontal and will project more than 200mm above the roof.
If your property is a listed building, the installation is likely to require an application for listed building consent, even where planning permission is not needed. We can check this on your behalf with the local planning office.
Wall mounted only – if your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site, planning consent is required when solar panels are to be fitted on the principal or side elevation walls and they are visible from the highway. If panels are to be fitted to a building in your garden or grounds they should not be visible from the highway.
Ground mounted systems
If you have limited roof space or require a large solar system
to meet your power requirement then a ground mount or
field array maybe the answer. However, there are a number
of prior considerations to take into account.
Ground mounted systems will generally require planning permission unless the array is less than 9 square meters, however this is a very small and largely ineffective area. The good news is that provided the proposed system is no higher than 2 metres, not visible from a highway (if in a conservation area) or within a World Heritage Site, then planning permission should be granted. Our associate architect Bruce Johnson can give pre-planning advice on this at no cost. We have achieved an over 95% approval record for submitted planning applications.
District Network Operator Permission (DNO)
In the majority of cases this is the National Grid. There are also a number of smaller private suppliers who have been appointed by builders on larger housing estates as a cost cutting exercise.
The DNO have responsibility for balancing the supply of power to properties and any installation exceeding 3.68kWp per phase must have been approved by the DNO. It therefore makes sense to consult the DNO alongside planning as there is little point in getting planning permission for a 30kWp system only to have the DNO restrict this to 20kWp.
All is not lost however as we may be able to employ a system of Export Limitation whereby we can restrict the amount of power leaving the property and therefore comply with the DNO’s requirements.
Our record to date is permission for a combined ground / roof mounted array of 60kWp for a domestic property. We also installed triple Tesla Powerwall batteries on site,
Construction of Ground Mounted Systems
Our preference is for the Sun Fixings Park-Tega pile driven system whereby we use a mini digger and arbour to screw the galvanised posts holding the panel aluminium framework into the ground. The module orientation is portrait and standard angle 30 degrees.
Regulations introduced in April 2015 deem most non-domestic solar installations below 1MW as permitted development, provided:
Solar panels are kept below 200mm perpendicular protrusion from the plane of the roof or wall (pitched and wall installations).
Solar panels are at least 1m from the external edges of the building (pitched and flat roof installations).
Solar panels protrude less than 1m from the roof surface and cannot be the highest part, excluding the chimney (flat roof installations).
Permitted development does not apply:
If the installation is on a listed building or on a building that is within the grounds of a listed building, or on a site designated as a scheduled monument.
If the building is on Article 2(3) designated land and the equipment is not installed on a wall or a roof slope which fronts a highway.
If there is more than one ground mounted system within the curtilage.
For systems greater than 50kW:
The Prior Approval of the Local Planning Authority is required, which is a much less prescriptive process than a planning application. This will assess the design and external appearance of the development, particularly in respect of the impact of glare on occupiers of neighbouring land.
There are three or four hurdles which may need to be overcome before an installation can proceed.
Rooftop domestic installations under 4kWp:
For domestic rooftop installations the only hurdle may be the structural report. In addition, if the system size exceeds 3.68kWp an application to the DNO, free of charge in the case of National Grid, is usually required if the house has a single phase supply (this limit is 3.68kWp per phase, so 11kWp on a 3 phase supply). Consent to connect to the grid is usually forthcoming for all systems under 4kWp.
Allow 4-6 weeks between placing an order and completion of the installation.
Commercial and larger Domestic installations (Three Phase):
Possible hurdles to be overcome will be as follows:
Planning permission (when required), allow 10-11 weeks. If planning permission is required we will usually spend two weeks compiling the application, after which there is usually an 8 week wait for the planning department to determine the outcome of the application.
DNO application, allow 2-4 weeks. In addition to planning permission, installations over 3.68 kWp (on a single phase supply) or 11kWp (on a 3 phase supply) will require an application to the relevant DNO, locally this is National Grid or SSE. Generally the DNO will allow connections to proceed up to 10kWp and there is also the option of export limitation if allowed by the DNO. This allows for a full installation but decreases the amount of power going to the grid by winding down the inverter.
Additional work to grid/installation of 3-phase connection, allow at least 6 weeks if required. If the DNO identifies additional work to the grid or if a 3-phase connection needs to be installed on the property, this is likely to add anything from 6 weeks to several months to the timescale, depending on the speed of the operator.
Structural report, allow 1 to 2 weeks. The final hurdle to overcome for roof mounted installations is the structural report, to confirm that the roof can take the additional loads imposed by the panels. Generally speaking we are accredited to produce building regulation certificates ourselves.
Additional strengthening work may be required as a result of this report. As long as the work is not major, it can take place at the same time as the solar panel installation. Alternatively, you could opt for an in roof rather than on roof system, as the solar panels will be lighter than roof tiles.
We will usually apply for planning permission, apply to the DNO and prepare a structural report concurrently, so that if all goes well, all of these hurdles can be overcome in 11 weeks. We are then free to proceed with the installation, which typically takes place 4 to 6 weeks after the planning decision. The installation itself will usually take between 1 and 2 weeks, depending on the size of the project, giving an overall project timeframe of around 5 months.
Solar Star Power Promise
We offer a 10-year warranty on all parts and labour,
a 20-year warranty on Solar Edge HD Wave Inverters
and all solar panels have a performance warranty of 25 years.
Design plays a huge part in the energy production of an installation we use a sophisticated industry standard computer model (PV Sol) to match solar panels and inverters to the orientation and elevation of a building. If orientation is an issue, we may mount panels on both east / west roofs using twin string inverters to equalize the solar effect throughout the day and optimise the supply of electricity. Alternatively, if shading from adjacent buildings or trees is a problem, we would design a system using individual optimizers for each solar panel to negate the shading effect. We have found the most effective method of minimizing shading is the Solar Edge optimization system. For smaller areas of shading we install a Tigo to individual panels. Solar Star Power supply and install a large range of solar panels, we are not tied to a single supplier and can design a system specifically for your property.
Our preferred panel mounting system is Schletter on most concrete tiled roofs, Red Tip for Rosemary and Staffordshire Blues and the K2 system for modern double tiles. We space our roof anchors approximately 1.25 meters apart. This is well within MCS recommended guidelines which also advise notching the roof tiles where required to ensure they lay flat to the roof.
A ten-year warranty is supplied on all parts and labour. The Solar Edge HD Wave inverters can be supplied with an additional 20-year warranty whilst all solar panels have a performance warranty of 25 years. After installation we will request annual meter readings to compare production against our original quotation and any under-performance greater 5% will be corrected by us.
This may not add up to the cheapest method of installation or equipment on the market but equally it will not be the most expensive and is guaranteed to provide reliability with peak performance for the lifetime of your system.
Finally, we can normally install a solar array and ancillary equipment in one working day. Scaffolding is usually erected one day prior to install and removed two days after completion so that we can monitor the system for a short period. Upon completion we will issue the handover pack along with the relevant MCS Certificate.