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

The installation of solar panels is now considered "permitted development", and no longer needs planning permission. If your property is listed however, you will need listed building consent and there are certain guidelines which you must follow if your property is in a conservation area.

Not every local council interprets the guidelines in the same way, so do check with your council whether you may need planning permission. These guidelines dictate that the solar panels should ideally not be on the side of the roof facing the road, and should minimise the change in appearance of the building.

Local councils now have a legal duty to design local development policies that promote and not restrict renewable and low carbon energy production. You do however need to be sure you installer is MSC (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited and a member of one of the listed schemes which includes CORGI, HETAS etc.

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. The installation of solar panels will not need planning permission, but you must have an MSC accredited contractor. If your house is listed, or in a conservation area then please make sure you follow the regulations.

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.