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HomeFarming NewsGreen Party to make solar-powered electricity cheaper for farmers under new bill
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Green Party to make solar-powered electricity cheaper for farmers under new bill

The Green Party has introduced a bill to the Seanad, which seeks to remove planning restrictions around installing solar panels in Ireland.

The bill will amend “outdated” planning and development regulations, permitting the installation of solar panels on public buildings without planning permission.

The political party has claimed that its bill will make solar-powered electricity easier and cheaper for public buildings and farms.

Solar Panel Bill

This bill will reduce the barriers associated with solar panel installation:

  • Employment of architects in advance of installation;
  • Submission of multiple planning applications;
  • Limitations surrounding ground-mounted solar panels.

Details of the Solar Panel Bill:

  • You will no longer require planning permission for solar panels on schools and public buildings;
  • Homes will be able to install larger arrays of solar panels without planning permission (no longer limited to 12m squared or 50% of roof area);
  • Industrial, business, and agricultural buildings will be able to install larger arrays without planning permission. No longer limited to 50m squared or 50% of roof area;
  • Also, you can install panels on the ground up to 4m in height;
  • Some restrictions will apply regarding how close panels can be located to the apex of a roof, to the side etc for safety reasons;
  • The bill will not impact listed buildings. You will still have to seek planning permission for solar panels.
Reduce farmers’ costs

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett said:

“We need to move quickly to renewable energy to meet our emissions targets, so planning laws that restrict the use of solar panels on schools and community buildings need to be rapidly overhauled.”

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“Apart from the climate considerations, allowing such buildings to generate solar energy will reduce their costs.”

“Updating this legislation would also clear the way for more solar panels on farm sheds, reducing farmers’ costs and making agriculture more environmentally friendly.”

Senator Pauline O’Reilly, who is brought the bill to the Seanad, added:

“Despite Ireland not being the sunniest of countries, we actually have huge potential for solar power.”

“However, we have very few solar panels generating electricity due to outdated policy and red tape.”

“Currently, public buildings and schools need to seek planning permission to install even one solar panel. This can take months of paperwork and formalities.”

“Businesses and agricultural buildings are only allowed very small arrays, often not enough to power the building.”

Furthermore, she said this legislation could reduce costs and carbon footprint.

Senator Vincent P Martin concluded:

“There are public buildings in every constituency in Ireland. So, this bill will have a real tangible benefit across the nation.”

The senator said the bill will pave the way for public buildings to sell excess electricity generated back to the grid.

“There is huge opportunity if we consider the amount of time during weekends or holidays that a school could be generating electricity.”

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