Can You Install Solar Panels In A Conservation Area?

Last updated: November 15, 2023

Regulations for solar energy are often lax, even in conservation zones or when listed buildings are involved, because the UK government wants more of the country’s citizens to install solar panels.

What is a conservation area?

Conservation areas serve the purpose of managing and safeguarding a location’s cultural architectural and historic interest or the distinctive characteristics that give it character.

In the UK, there are no less than 10,000 conservation areas, and every local authority has at least one.

A conservation area covers 2,938 square kilometres, or 2.2 per cent of England, a size greater than Luxembourg.

Individual buildings located within a conservation area are unaffected. Instead, the legislation protects the overall character or vibe of a place, such as a town or a village.

Be aware that listed structures located in conservation areas come under distinct regulations.

These structures cannot be torn down, expanded, or altered in any way without the local planning authority’s approval. Naturally, this includes solar panel installation as well.

Can you install solar in a conservation area key points:

  • You may need planning permission to install solar panels in a conservation area.
  • The local council will evaluate each application individually.
  • Use discreet, color-matched solar panels to increase your chances of approval.
  • A visual impact assessment might be required in some cases.
  • Additional rules apply if your building is listed.
  • Consult with professionals to ensure compliance with regulations and safety.

Check our quick help solar energy guides here:

What are the general solar panel installation rules?

  • The solar panels should be within a maximum of 20 cm of the surface of the roof.
  • Solar panels cannot be installed higher than the roof’s highest point except for the chimneys
  • As far as it is possible, panels should be installed to lessen the visual impact on the building’s outside.
  • On a piece of land that is part of a listed building’s grounds, panels cannot be put in.
  • Solar equipment shouldn’t be installed on a roof that constitutes the front face of the building or the side of the building that is visible from a public road if the property is situated in a World Heritage Site or conservation area.
  • The authorized development rule has significant exceptions, in case your property is listed or situated in a conservation area. If your home fits into one of these categories, it is essential to verify with your local planning official.
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What building regulations should you be aware of?

It is crucial that any construction or renovation-related work being done in the UK complies with current building rules, whether you are having a new extension built, self-constructing a home, renovating a historic building, or installing a new kitchen or bathroom (also known as building regs).

With regards to the installation of solar panels, there are the following rules to strictly adhere to in the UK:

  • It is necessary to test and demonstrate that the existing roof can support the weight of the panels.
  • Additionally, other components of the construction, such as electrical installation, are subject to meet the building standards. There is a possibility that some electrical or structural rework might be needed if the building does not adhere to the rules.

Rules that apply to conservation areas

A widely adopted method for households to produce electricity and make money is to install domestic solar panels.

If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, they’re also a good source of renewable energy.

Solar panels cannot, however, be installed everywhere. There are several things you can and cannot do if the property you own or rent is in the conservation area.

Solar panels can be set up in conservation areas although you need to tick all the boxes to get permission from the planning authorities.

Even without obtaining planning clearance, there are a few guidelines that must be followed:

  • Avoid installing solar panels on walls that face a road.
  • Not putting in standalone solar panels near a road where your house is located.
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Additionally, unless you want to submit a planning permission request, you must abide by the planning regulations that are universally applicable to solar panel installations.

These consist of:

  • Ensuring that the panels don’t restrict use or materially change any structures’ look
  • Remove any inactive equipment as soon as you can.

How can I find out if my property is a listed building?

To find out whether your property is one of the listed ones, you can use the National List for England database or the Heritage Gateway website.

6. Do you need planning permission to install solar panels?

Solar panels may be considered “Permitted Development,” which means that a permit is no longer required.

According to the government’s extension of permitted development rights, non-domestic buildings no longer need to obtain planning approval in order to install solar PV or solar thermal systems.

Even while there are occasionally ownership and planning issues to take into account when working with commercial buildings, in theory, you can install solar panels on a business property without needing planning approval as long as you meet certain requirements.

On a flat roof, you will probably need planning clearance if you wish to put solar panels on a flat roof.

This is due to the fact that solar panels are typically mounted in frames on flat roofs to generate an angle with the sun.

This implies that they must normally extend more than 0.2 meters over the roof slope, which is against the “permitted development” regulations.

On listed buildings, although, it may not be possible to place solar panels on a structure that is part of a scheduled monument or a listed building’s grounds. After requesting planning permission, it needs listed building consent.

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In the conservation areas, the permitted development rights may allow you to install a solar PV system if you reside in a conservation area, but if you want to put one on a wall that faces a highway, you’ll need to submit a planning application.

In certain circumstances, it is feasible to obtain planning permission, but your local planning authority has the final say.

Can you put solar panels in a field?

The best locations for solar farms are either flat terrain or a hill that faces south. Planning authorization is required for ground-mounted solar panel installations larger than 9 m2 (4-5 big solar panels).

Therefore, all solar farms need to obtain planning authorization. Solar farms in the UK require approval from a number of strict planning processes before construction can start.