SolarEdge Rooftop Residential Solar Panels
The PDR overhaul removes the 50kW upper limit for permitted rights for rooftop solar on domestic and non-domestic buildings. Image: SolarEdge

The Scottish government’s overhaul of permitted development rights (PDRs) for rooftop solar has officially come into force, removing the need for planning permission.

The eagerly anticipated legislation is expected to have a “really significant benefit for business and commercial rooftops to help reduce energy costs”, Solar Energy UK said, with the PDR overhaul removing the 50kW upper limit for permitted rights for rooftop solar on domestic and non-domestic buildings.

Solar Energy UK also disclosed that the move follows the removal of non-domestic rates for rooftop solar in last year’s budget, which the industry also campaigned for. Both these changes will eliminate considerable barriers to rooftop installations.

The new rules allow for the installation of flat roof systems under permitted development as long as they do not protrude more than 1m from the roof surface.

In certain circumstances, solar panels can also be considered permitted development in conservation areas, as long as they are not installed on primary elevations or facing roads. The only exceptions to these rules are World Heritage sites and listed buildings.

The chair of Solar Energy Scotland, Thomas McMillan, welcomed the announcement: “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 costs 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.”

Alongside the removal of planning permission, new solar regulations also include allowing free-standing solar panels within the grounds of non-domestic buildings (up to 12sqm) and relaxing restrictions for solar canopies.

Solar canopies no longer need to be primarily used to power electric vehicle (EV) chargers, as it was deemed an “unnecessary constraint”. The industry intends to keep talking to the Scottish government about potentially increasing the 12sqm limit in the future, Solar Energy UK said.