Planning permission will need to be obtained for all large renewable energy developments. The Department for Communities and Local Government has published specific plain English guides to policy related to renewable energy.

The planning system is there to address the legal requirement to obtain planning permission for the development or use of land. It is a way for planning authorities to control what development occurs in a given area. Local councils are guided by development plans, and planning legislation helps encourage developments that fit that wider, long-term plans.

The English planning system is designed to be applied by local government and communities. There are usually three tiers of local government:

  • County Councils
  • District and borough/city councils
  • Parish or town councils

The national Planning Policy Framework provides a balanced set of national planning policies for England covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of development. There is a seperate policy framework for significant infrastructure. For renewable energy installations greater than 50MW the responsibility for granting permission is held by the planning inspectorate.

Most community-scale developments are expected to fall into the local development category and therefore to local planning authorities, as per the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It is recommended that community groups identify their local planning authority and establish dialogue as early as possible in the process.

Small domestic PV (sub 4kWp) and external wall insulation generally fall under the category of permitted development, for more information see the solar PV technologies page or the Government's planning portal.

For more detailed information about elements of the planning system that relate specifically to renewable energy, see the full guide to planning.

To download the planning module - click here

Further Information

The CSE's website has information on planning your renewable energy project.

Cornwall Council has produced a helpful energy efficiency and renewable energy advice note on Neighbourhood Planning.

Temple Bright have created a guide about Environmental Impact Assessments.

Energy Systems Catapult has designed a planning framework to help local government, energy networks and other key local stakeholders prepare for a low carbon future in an cost-efficient and strategic way. You can find the three reports via this link


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