Permitted Development Rights: Non Domestic Solar Panels and Domestic Air Source Heat Pumps

Closed 27 Aug 2015

Opened 22 Jun 2015

Feedback updated 18 Jan 2016

We asked

Your views on proposals to extend permitted development rights for solar panels on non-domestic buildings and for air source heat pumps on domestic properties.

You said

We received 52 responses primarily from business operators and local authorities but also from professional bodies, aviation authorities, third sector organisations and members of the public. Most respondents were supportive of the proposals. In particular support was expressed for the positive impact on business and on climate change and carbon reduction targets. Equality impacts were considered positive especially in addressing fuel poverty. Most comments related to air source heat pumps. The key issues focussed on noise and visual impacts, and on extension to the permitted development rights proposed. Two objections were received relating to safety concerns in relation to PD rights for non-domestic solar panels next to airports.

We did

Given the objections received we have taken forward proposals for air source heat pumps separately from solar panels.  A draft order to change permitted development legislation on air source heat pumps is expected to be laid before Parliament in March. The order incorporates changes addressing where possible the issues that arose during consultation. Subsequent to parliamentary approval, revised permitted development legislation will come into effect in March 2016. We are continuing to liaise with aviation interests on solar panels next to airports and expect revised legislation in the autumn providing an appropriate resolution to the objections can be found. 


The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (as updated) provides for a range of buildings, technologies and other ‘developments’ to go ahead without the need for planning permission.  Other permissions, such as a building warrant or listed building consent may still be required.  The removal of the planning application step means there is no planning application fee to be paid and there would be no cost arising paid from the preparation of information supporting the application.  It also removes uncertainty because those things that are permitted development are already acceptable in planning terms.

Permitted development rights work by identifying the conditions the proposal must meet in order for the rights to apply.  Proposals that do not meet the conditions are not permitted development and therefore require planning permission before they can go ahead.  Any planning application will be considered against the policies of the relevant development plan and other relevant matters known as ‘material considerations’.

Permitted development rights work best for small scale, low impact developments that can be constructed or installed in a similar manner regardless of the location of the property where the development happens.  Impacts can be predicted and managed through a single set of conditions that is applied in all instances.  Thresholds can be established, beyond which the rights do not apply, allowing more significant impacts to be considered case by case, through the planning application process by the relevant planning authority for the area.  

Why your views matter

Permitted development rights for air source heat pumps and solar panels are being reviewed to ensure that those wishing to install the technology in Scotland and those manufacturing the technology have similar conditions to England and Wales. For solar panels this is also an opportunity to provide similar permitted development rights across residential (domestic) and non-domestic (any building that isn’t a home) buildings. This can help support the market for air source heat pumps and solar panels, whilst also reducing the reliance of individual properties on fossil fuel heat and power sources.

At this time our proposals relate to solar panels on non-domestic buildings and air source heat pumps on domestic properties.

While we consider there may be demand for air source heat pumps on non-domestic properties the range and scale of heat demand in these properties can vary significantly. Standard measures to control the level of noise emitted from an air source heat pump available for the United Kingdom, in the form of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standards, currently apply only to domestic properties.

For solar panels on domestic properties the installation is not limited by the potential output of the panels and installation falls within the ‘one meter bubble’ concept where by development that does not add to the floor space of the house or flat and projects by less than one meter from the external wall of the building is considered to be permitted development. This presents the concept and there are some restrictions which can be read here.

Similar rights do not apply to the non-domestic sector. We want to ensure that for solar panels the technology can benefit from permitted development rights whether the panels are attached to domestic or non-domestic buildings.

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We are launching this consultation on 22 June, seeking responses by 27 August 2015.  This is a 9 week consultation, a slight reduction on the standard 12 week period as we consider the changes to be limited and many of the issues have already been established in previous consultations on this topic. 


We invite you to comment on any aspect of our proposals but have also provided consultation questions on which we would appreciate your response.

The consultation questions refer to impact assessments which have informed these proposals.  Those assessments have been published separately but at the same time as this consultation.  Comments on those impact assessments should be received by 27 August 2015, using the same details as given below

You can also make your comments known in writing to:

 Air Source Heat Pumps and Solar Panels Permitted Development Rights Consultation

  Scottish Government

   FAO Simon Bonsall
   Victoria Quay
   EH6 6QQ