11.8.5 Solar Energy Development Guidance
11.8.5 Solar Energy Development Management Guidance
The main impact from the installation of solar energy technologies is visual. The installation of solar panels on a building can impact on the building’s character. There are exemptions contained within the Planning & Development Regulations 2001 to 2008 ( and ), regarding the placing of solar technology on domestic structures, and on buildings used/associated with industrial, light industrial, business and agricultural purposes, subject to certain criteria. Planning permission is required to install solar technology on a Protected Structure. Sensitive design and location are important so that the overall character is not diminished.
The following principles will guide Development Management:
- The Planning Authority will promote the use of solar technologies in new and existing dwellings, offices, commercial and industrial buildings, subject to compliance with normal planning and environmental criteria and the development management reuirements.
- The Planning Authority will support and facilitate the generation of renewable energy from Utility Scale Solar Photo- Voltaic (USSPV) where solar arrays can be so positioned that, when considering Development Management Guidance, they will not have an excessively adverse impact on the landscape, either individually or in combination.
- The Planning Authority will support and facilitate the development of passive solar design proposals for the development of houses in rural and urban areas, and will draw on the recommendations of the , and the Guidelines on .
- The Planning Authority will continue to make available advice on Passive Solar Design in preplanning consultations for domestic and commercial buildings.
- The Planning Authority will consider impacts of overshadowing on the efficiency of existing solar technologies when assessing planning applications.
- To support the installation of solar panels on public buildings such as libraries and schools and other Government and County Council projects within the county should the opportunity arise.
Public buildings and schools are not included within the Regulations. The Council will support applications to install solar panels on these buildings within the county should the opportunity arise.
All solar farm applications will be assessed on a site-specific basis and in accordance with the principles of proper planning and sustainable development. The best locations for Utility Scale Solar PV (USSPV) are:
- Proximate to a 38kv or 110kv lines and substations
- Rural Brownfield (e.g. cutaway bog);
- Urban Brownfield (e.g. former landfill sites);
- Topographically assimilative and screening rich landscapes;
- Agricultural Lands
126.96.36.199 Utility Scale Solar PV (USSPV):
It is recommended that the impact of Utility Scale Solar PV (USSPV) on the landscape be considered with due cognisance of the following:
- Individual and cumulative ‘zones of visual influence’ identifying where the solar arrays will be visible from. Sequential effects on visibility need to be considered where an observer moves through a landscape and sees two or more schemes. Common routes through a landscape (e.g. major roads; long distance paths or cycle routes) can be identified as ‘journey scenarios’ and the proposals impact on them can be assessed;
- In addition to the proposal under consideration, consider photomontages to show all existing and consented solar farms, including those for which planning applications have been submitted,
- If necessary to undertake a glint and glare assessment, including cumulative effectives of all existing and consented solar farms. Glint and Glare is linked to the characteristics of some solar energy technologies such as older solar PV panels or concentrated solar power (CSP) where energy is focussed on a central boiler which drives a steam turbine.
Glint and glare are defined as:
“Glint” gives out or reflects small flashes of light.
“Glare” shine with a strong or dazzling light.
At the most detailed level, description and assessment of cumulative impacts may include the following landscape issues:
- scale of development in relation to landscape character or designations,
- sense of distance,
- existing focal points in the landscape,
- and sense of remoteness or wildness.
- Proximity of areas of archaeological potential. Any application for a USSPV scheme should at least submit an archaeological assessment predicated on a site walk over and desk research of possible archaeological potential.
- Proximity to sensitive visual receptors, such as those found in heritage landscapes or areas with scenic landscape qualities, including protected views.
A decommissioning statement should be included as a standard component of a planning application for utility scale solar PV.
It should be noted that over time, higher efficiency panels (repowering) during the lifetime of a grant of planning permission may need to be installed. This should be considered in all applications and as long as the physical characteristics or the planning impacts of the development are not materially different from the original (i.e. reflectivity, sun path tracking etc), such replacements can be conditioned subject to consideration by the Planning Authority.
188.8.131.52 Small scale domestic, business or light industrial solar collector panels
Domestic, business or light industrial buildings can use either thermal and/or Photo-Voltaic solar collector panels.
The best locations for arrays of domestic and commercial scaled solar panels are:
- South facing sloped roofs
- Free standing at or above ground level adjacent to domestic or commercial buildings.
Solar collector panels are in some instances, with limitations, exempted under the following regulations:
- Domestic under Class 2 c) of Part 1, Schedule 2, exempt in accordance with Article 6 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended
- Business or light industrial under Class 56 d) and e) of Part 1, Schedule 2, exempt in accordance with Article 6 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended
Planning applications dealing with developments which exceeds the exempt limitations, will be considered with due regard to the following;
- The location and elevation of the proposals
- The profile and colours of the solar panel arrays
- The direction the panels face
- Potential impact of the arrays of solar panels on the character of the structure and that of neighbouring structures.