I have a south-facing garage and I'd like to install solar panels on the roof. Would I need planning permission, or can I just go ahead?

Prior to April 2008 you would have needed planning permission to install solar panels on your roof, but since then, solar panels are deemed to be "permitted development", and no longer require planning permission. However if your property is listed you will need listed planning permission, and there are certain guidelines that pertain to property in a conservation area, which must be followed. Not every Council interprets the guidelines in the same way, and it is therefore important to check with the Council whether you may need planning permission. These guidelines dictate mainly that the solar panels should not be on the public road side of the roof, and should minimise the change in appearance of the building and area.

The legislation was amended again on 1 October 2008 and the prohibition on road-facing roof slopes in conservation areas was removed. You do not need planning permission and there should be no need for you to contact the Council or their conservation team as long as you follow the other guidelines. This is because the act states that the planning policy statement of Planning and Climate change states that planning authorises should ensure any local approach to protecting landscapes and townscapes is consistent with PPS22 and does not preclude the supply of any type of renewable energy other than in the most exceptional circumstances. The council has a legal duty to design local development policies to promote and not restrict renewable and low carbon energy and supporting infrastructure.

You do however need to be sure your installed is MSC (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited and a member of one of the listed schemes, which includes CORGI, HETAS, NICEIC, APHC, BESCA, ELECSA, OFTERC and STROMA. You must obtain one of these certificates on completion of the installation as you will need this when you sell the property in the future.

Finally if you want to be connected to the Grid then your MCS contractor must notify the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) of your installation, as they may need to give permission for larger systems to be installed.

If you wish to have a domestic installation of solar panels you can do so with an MSC accredited contractor, without planning permission, but obtaining a completion certificate set out above, as long as your property is not listed, and you follow the guidelines if your property is in a conservation area.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.