Planning barrier to UK solar could be removed

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UK trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA) has welcomed a government proposal to remove the requirement for commercial businesses to secure planning permission for PV rooftops of 50 kW to 1 MW in scale.

But with only 65 MW of large commercial rooftop systems – defined as 50 kW to 5 MW – installed in the UK in the 12 months to June, the STA says a lot more must be done to boost that segment of the PV market.

The STA is critical of the requirement commercial buildings have an energy performance certificate rating of at least band D and of ‘the rapid degression time' of FITS.

"Larger rooftop schemes still face more deployment risks than they should and they risk being deprived of resources even when they are highly cost-effective," said STA chief executive Paul Barwell in a press release issued by the organization today.

"We will continue to press DECC (the UK government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change) to comprehensively tackle the barriers to its rooftop revolution, set out in its Solar Strategy."

The announcement came after the government's Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) yesterday opened a consultation into several proposals aimed at streamlining the country's planning system.

Citing the identification by DECC of planning delays as a hurdle to solar deployment, in its recent Solar Strategy, the DCLG is proposing removing the need for planning permision for commercial rooftops up to 1 MW in size. The planning system currently waives the need for permission for systems up to just 50 kW in scale.

The planning consultation will close on September 26.

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