The Scottish government has pledged to consult on lifting the need to obtain planning permission for larger solar installations on non-domestic buildings.
In a letter published on 11 October, Planning Minister Tom Arthur and Chief Planner Fiona Simpson said they recognised that “people and businesses may consider that making an investment now in renewable energy for their premises could prove invaluable in securing their immediate and long-term resilience.”
The consultation relates to an extension to the scope of permitted development rights (PDR), which allow certain kinds of development to proceed without the need to make a planning application.
Trade association Solar Energy Scotland had previously lobbied for a revision of this kind, which would bring the planning situation more into line with that in England.
Chair of the association, Thomas McMillan. commented: “I am glad the Scottish Government has recognised that this is an important issue for businesses trying to reduce energy bills and meet net zero targets.”
“It is vital that the planning system reflects the urgency of the energy price crisis and climate emergency, and we will continue to work for a speedy removal of this unnecessary barrier. “
“We must work at pace to grow the solar industry in Scotland.”
“I hope the new National Planning Framework 4, expected later this Autumn, also reflects this urgency, and gives substantially elevated weight to solar and other renewables in the planning process.”
John Forster, chair of Forster Group, “Scotland’s largest integrated solar and roofing business”, said the announcement was “very welcome news against an increasingly bleak economic picture.”
“It’s clear that current planning rules are no longer fit for purpose and will do very little to help commercial businesses take more control of their own energy generation and usage.
“If consumers wish to install solar panels to support their own energy generation then we should make it as easy as possible.”
“It’s reassuring to learn that the Scottish Government is listening to the solar energy industry and taking our concerns and recommendations seriously.
“While overall awareness of alternative energy sources is growing, more work needs to be done to educate consumers on how they can have greater control of their own energy affordability, using different sources of renewable energy, flexibly. Solar energy has a crucial role to play.