Council Permitting Requirements for Solar Power in New South Wales

7th Jun 18

Written by James Doyle

Solar power systems are much simpler to install than other generation systems, but don’t forget they are subject to legal requirements. In the specific case of New South Wales, a solar installation may need individual permission based on its installed capacity in kilowatts and also the conditions of the property where it will be deployed. This article provides an overview of the general guidelines, but remember there are specific rules for each council.

The best way to ensure your solar power system meets Australian building codes and local legislation is working with a qualified and experienced provider. In addition to bringing technical expertise to the project, they are already familiarised with the regulatory framework.

Do not confuse council permitting with the network interconnection procedure, which applies for all grid-tied solar power systems. Just like permitting requirements change by council, interconnection requirements change by network provider.

How Solar Power Permitting Changes with System Capacity

Assuming no additional conditions apply, the main factor that determines the permitting procedure for a solar power system is the installed capacity in kilowatts.

  • If a solar PV system is below 10 kW, it is considered exempt development and does not require an individual permitting procedure. The project is still subject to the applicable standards according to the State Environmental Planning Policy. This category applies to other low-impact projects such as communications dishes and rainwater tanks.
  • Systems between 10 kW and 100 kW are considered complying development, which means they require council approval but are eligible for an expedited procedure. Some other project types under this category are small residential constructions, swimming pools, tree removal and fire safety improvements.
  • Systems exceeding 100 kW must be subject to an individual approval procedure, where they are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

With a detailed assessment of your electricity consumption profile, you can determine the optimal solar system capacity for your property. Oversized installations are not recommended, since you will get a diminished financial performance; all surplus production is exported to the power network, and you get a feed-in tariff that is only a small fraction of the retail kWh price.

Additional Permitting Requirements

Even if your solar PV system would qualify as exempt development or complying development, there are special cases where an individual permitting procedure is required:

    • Solar PV systems in buildings listed under the State Heritage Register. You will normally get permission if the solar array faces away from a street, but may not be allowed to install street-facing systems if the property is listed as heritage. You may also be denied permission if the whole area is considered heritage.


  • Properties with Strata Plan. These properties are split into private and common ownership areas, and you need special permission to deploy a solar power system. Normally, this is not a problem if the building in question has its own rooftop, but you are unlikely to get permission for a solar PV system on a shared rooftop.


If you are considering solar power for a property in New South Wales, make sure you follow the correct permitting procedure to avoid legal hassles later on. The best recommendation is working with an experienced solar PV system provider.

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