Guidance for domestic solar PV
Do I need planning permission to install a solar PV device?
You can install solar panels in most circumstances without the need for planning permission, provided certain criteria are met, using Householder Permitted Development Rights. This will differ depending on the location of your property, the size of the device proposed, and where the device is proposed.
However, within the National Park there are particular considerations regarding landscape character and traditional buildings where there may be sensitivity to renewable energy schemes. There are more specific restrictions that apply to the installation of renewable technologies on listed buildings or within Conservation Areas (see below). If you are considering installing solar PV panels at your domestic property, we encourage you to discuss your options with us using our pre-application service. For more information about this service, and how to obtain planning advice please visit planning advice.page.
Other officers of the National Park Authority, for instance, the Historic Buildings Conservation Officer, Historic Environment Officer, and Landscape Officer, can also be contacted with draft proposals that cover their areas of expertise so that they can advise as to whether further information is needed.
Helpful guidance is also available at the Planning Portal website
What could I consider when installing solar PV panels?
As a first step, we recommend making sure your building is as energy-efficient as possible such as using insulation and draught-proofing. More in depth information about energy saving at home can be found at the Energy Saving Trust’s website, available at the following link: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/.
For more information relating to Historic Buildings and energy efficiency, please visit the Historic England website
Key design considerations:
Exmoor National Park Authority is supportive of solar panel development where there is careful consideration for the conservation of the National Park. We recommend that applicants consider the proposed design and location of solar panel development.
- Small-scale freestanding solar arrays that are well screened in enclosed gardens or closely linked to existing buildings within the curtilage of the property may be preferable to visually intrusive roof mounted panels. The National Park Authority is aware that this option is likely to require planning permission, whereas installing solar panels on the roof of a domestic property generally does not. However, applying for permission may have benefits because ground mounted panels are likely to be less obtrusive with no or minimal visual impact, easier to maintain, and have less impact on Exmoor’s historic and traditional buildings. Local Plan Policy CC-D4 ‘Freestanding Solar Arrays’ is supportive of this type of development.Link to Exmoor Local Plan Part 5
- If a roof slope is the only viable option, we recommend installing the panels on the rear of a building so they are less visually prominent, in an angled frame on a flat roof, or on a modern detached building such as an extension, outbuilding or a garage. Panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface. Please note that specific considerations apply to Listed Buildings (see below).
- Where possible, use non-shiny materials that integrate well with the existing roof, such as a matte black colour.
- Site the installation to match the position of windows or other similar features on the existing building or surrounding buildings.
- When choosing where to site the panels, try to minimise their effect on the external appearance of the building and on the amenity of the area
- Remove the panels as soon as reasonably practicable when no longer needed
Solar Panels on Listed Buildings
The installation of solar panels on a listed building is very likely to require Listed Building Consent and the advice of the Historic Buildings Conservation Officer should be sought in the earliest stages of the proposal. Please see the above advice and website link on how to submit a pre-application enquiry. In some cases, they will also need planning permission. The listed status of the building means additional care and consideration in the placement of the panels will be needed to ensure that the character or appearance of the listed building is not harmed. In some cases, they will not be permitted. Before considering solar panels, it is best to improve the energy efficiency of the building in other ways to get the best out of the investment. Further advice can be found in the Historic England guidance is available at the link above.
Conservation Areas and Scheduled Ancient Monuments
- Within a Conservation Area, panels are not permitted on walls facing the highway.
- The panels must also not be installed on a site designated as a scheduled monument.
- The Exmoor Historic Environment Record has an interactive map showing Conservation Areas, Scheduled Ancient Monuments, and Listed Buildings.
Solar Together Devon
Exmoor National Park Authority is working with Devon County Council and North Devon District Council through the Devon Climate Emergency initiative to reduce Devon’s carbon emissions. Solar Together Devon is a group-buying scheme, which brings households together to get high-quality solar panels at a competitive price. More information about this initiative can be found at: www.solartogether.co.uk/northdevon.
Please note that this initiative is currently only running in Devon, so does not apply to residents within Somerset.
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