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July 16, 2019 Written by: Glossop Town Planning

Overshadowing of existing solar panel systems - Red Dot decision

In 2018, the Tribunal published a Red Dot Decision relating to overshadowing of existing roof top solar panels, Hall v Moreland CC [2018] VCAT 2022. This is the first Red Dot Decision following the implementation of altered ResCode requirements by Amendment VC149. These changes amend Standards A7 and B10 to require a consideration the impact of an existing solar energy facility mounted on dwellings on adjoining lots.

In 2018, the Tribunal published a Red Dot Decision relating to overshadowing of existing roof top solar panels, Hall v Moreland CC [2018] VCAT 2022. This is the first Red Dot Decision following the implementation of altered ResCode requirements by Amendment VC149. These changes amend Standards A7 and B10 to require a consideration the impact of an existing solar energy facility mounted on dwellings on adjoining lots.

ResCode Standards A7 and B10

Amendment VC149 changed Standards A7 and B10 and applies to all Victorian Planning Schemes.

The Standards apply where the solar energy facility exists at the date of the planning application being made.

Clause 54.03-5 and Clause 55.03-5 now include the following objective:

To ensure the orientation and layout of development reduce fossil fuel energy use and make appropriate use of daylight and solar energy.

Standards A7 and B10 now include the requirement that building should be:

Sited and designed to ensure that the energy efficiency of existing dwellings on adjoining lots is not unreasonably reduced.

Also, some zones call up a consideration of overshadowing rooftop solar energy facilities. For instance, Clause 32.08-13 of the General Residential Zone contains the following decision guideline:

The impact of overshadowing on existing rooftop solar energy facilities on dwellings on adjoining lots in a General Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone or Township Zone.

What does this mean?

To guide decision making in relation to this issue Department of Environment Land Water and Planning has published Practice Note 88 and The Home Owners Guide: Managing overshadowing risk when installing a rooftop solar system.

The Practice Note provides guidance for the assessment of Standards A7 and B10. The Tribunal noted the following factors to consider:

- The extent of existing overshadowing of the roof top solar energy facility from existing buildings or permanent structures.
- Whether the new development meets the side and rear setbacks and the north facing window standards for residential development under clauses 54 and 55.
- Whether the protection of the existing rooftop solar facility will unreasonably constrain or compromise the proposed development.
- The type of existing roof top solar energy facility. It said that a multiple string system is less affected by shading than a single string which is more vulnerable to shading, or any other system features such as micro inverters or bypass diodes which can operate with partial shading.
- Whether the siting of the existing rooftop solar energy facility takes into account the potential future development of adjoining lots promoted or permitted under the planning scheme.
- The extent to which the existing rooftop solar energy facility has been located to protect it from overshadowing through the placement higher on the roof and further from existing boundaries.

The Home Owners Guide provides a number of examples of how to avoid overshadowing when installing solar panels

What does this mean for future development?

Building designers, architects and developers need to consider whether nearby sites contain roof top solar cells as their presence may constrain development.
At Glossop Town Planning, we are experts in understanding the implications of decision for our clients. If you would like further information regarding the above, or have any queries with your project please contact the Glossop team on (03) 9329 2288. The information contained in this article is general in nature and may not be applicable for your project. Please seek professional advice before acting on it.