A 'rooftop revolution', including a national rollout of solar panels on homes, proposed by MP’s Net Zero Review

Solar panel installation currently requires planning permission
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A 'rooftop revolution' – with a mass scale rollout of solar panels on homes and buildings – has been proposed in Conservative MP Chris Skidmore's wide-ranging assessment of how the UK can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Among the 129 recommendations the Net Zero Review has made – covering areas including the role of businesses, making better use of infrastructure, and delivering more energy-efficient homes – is scrapping planning permission for solar panels and reviewing whether they should be mandatory on new building projects.

Mr Skidmore said: “My recommendations are designed to make the most of this historic opportunity, covering the length and breadth of our economy, so that people in every part of the country can reap the benefits of this both in their communities, and in their pockets.”

What does the report say about solar panels?

“We need the full-scale deployment of solar, including through a ‘rooftop revolution’ that removes the existing constraints and barriers to solar panel deployment across residential and commercial buildings in the UK," the Net Zero Review states.

“To facilitate this, there should be no planning permission required to install domestic solar or commercial solar on the rooftops of buildings.”

The Review also proposes a consultation on mandating new homes to be built with solar, while ensuring that the planning system is flexible enough to enable this. This could mean solar could becomes the norm for all new buildings, potentially starting with public and other suitable buildings.

France and parts of Germany have already made solar panels mandatory for new car parks. France has approved legislation that will require all car parks with more than 80 spaces to be covered by solar panels in the next six years. The move is predicted to generate as much energy as 10 nuclear reactors.

The document adds that there is currently no target to make rooftop solar a standard for buildings across the UK, so the UK Government should consider options to support homes to include solar panels installation as part of its retrofit support scheme.

The Review also advocates the need for a national retrofit programme, delivered at local level. "This would take the form of a national programme for a ‘Net Zero Retrofit Hub’ or localised hubs, run by industry with government support, to act as a co-ordinating body to help facilitate local retrofit delivery," the Review states. "The policy framework should be structured in a similar way to the Future Homes Hub."

How has the industry reacted?

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The building industry is raring to act on energy efficiency improvements, which will decarbonise existing homes and reduce energy consumption, but there has been a lack of direction from the Government now for too long.

“What is abundantly clear from the Skidmore Review are the benefits of retrofitting — it’s a win-win solution. Retrofitting of existing homes lowers bills, warms homes, creates jobs, and provides local builders with skills for the future."

Matt Rooney, head of engineering policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, raised the issue of a skills shortage in the UK potentially derailing the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.

He said: “There are potential obstacles to achieving the rapid decarbonisation required, one of which being a lack of technical skills. Engineers and technicians will be vital to reaching net zero and we already know that there is shortfall in the pipeline of skills required.

“It is important that the Government recognise this and put forward the necessary resources to correct it.”

 

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.