Do I need a council approval for solar panels?

Fast read

In most cases, solar panel installations in Australia do not require Council development approval. This is because they are considered "Complying Development." However, specific guidelines must be followed. This includes ensuring the system is flush or parallel with the roof, does not reduce the structural integrity of the building, and is not visible from the street.

Council approval may be required if the property is a Heritage item or located in a Heritage Conservation area. The rules and regulations for obtaining permits for solar panel installations vary by state. Some require an electrical contractor's license or building incense to complete the work.

Checking with the local council and a trusted installer to obtain all necessary permits before beginning a solar panel installation is essential.

Do I need any sort of council approval to install solar panels?

In some instances, you will need Council involvement. In most cases in Australia, Council approval to install solar panels is not required.

The reason is that solar panels in most local government areas in Australia will be seen as “Complying Development”. You can add things like fences and awnings to your property without permission, as long as you follow the rules.

Also, many Councils nowadays want to support renewable energy. So it does not make sense for them to put too much red tape in front of a solar installation.

To have panels installed, ensure that the solar installation company follows the following general requirements:

  1. The solar system is flush or parallel with the roof’s surface or integrated into the building. This means that your panels have been installed to hang over the gutter of the building. However, the installation would be non-compliant because the rainwater would not enter the channel correctly. But might spill onto your or your neighbour’s fence, walkway, or garden area below the panels.
  2. The development means the system does not reduce the structural integrity of the building or roof.
  3. The solar system installation is not a reason to illegally remove trees near the building to minimise shade on your roof. Instead, you are reducing output by the solar system.
  4. The system is not on a historic building or in a protected heritage area designated by the State or local government.

Some councils may also require panels not to be visible from the street. Ensuring you meet the local requirements for solar panel installations.

Heritage listed homes

If your home is heritage-listed, special conditions apply in many Council areas. The reason is that the look and appearance of your house are to be preserved as much as possible. In addition, they are allowing future generations to appreciate the architecture of the past.

You will most likely require council approval, which will need to be processed as a development application. Otherwise referred to as a “DA” (term may vary from state to state). The DA approval process will go. However, your council may consider the following:

  • The positioning of the solar panel depends on your home style (Freestanding, terrace, semi-detached, etc.),
  • If the proposed installation will cause irreversible alterations or
  • Risk of roof damage or if your roof has been constructed with “high-value roofing materials”.

If you’re not sure, talk to your installer and the local council. They can help you understand what applies to you.

So, to summarise, you generally do not need approval from the council to install solar. This is unless your property is listed as a Heritage item or is located within a Heritage Conservation area.

two storey house with trees in front of it

Australia-wide regulations about council approval to install solar panels

Approval for solar panel installations in Australia works on a state-by-state basis. Each state has its rules and regulations, although exactly which permit you to need depends on which State in Australia you are from. Below is a general overview of the regulations in different States.

New South Wales

You need a license to install solar PV systems in NSW. Only those with an electrical contractor’s license or building incense can do it.

Moreover, it is illegal to undergo electrical work if unqualified. According to the Home Building Act of 1989. Electrical work can only be completed by holders of an electrical contractor license or by/under the supervision of someone with an electrical qualified supervisor certificate.

Something else you may want to consider is deposits and contracts. The Home Building Act of 1989 states that 10% of the contract price is the maximum a customer can be asked to pay. In terms of contracts, a written contract must be issued for work over $5,000. If over $5,000, a Fair Trading Consumer Building guide must also be provided.

If you live in a heritage house in NSW, you must take note that you only need developmental approval if the works are not by the following government document:

Development Application exception for solar panels in heritage › publications


In Victoria, contractors/installers will need specific certifications to build the system. However, in most situations, you will not need an actual solar power system permit. Local government areas (LGAs) throughout Victoria will only require council approval if the solar panels protrude excessively when given the street or public spaces (often over 20/30cm).

Most commonly, however, permits are required if the area is heritage or the building. In particular, it is of heritage. Suppose you are unsure whether you need a license for your unique situation. We urge you to contact your local council office; most often, they will swiftly point you in the right direction.

If you are sure that you need a permit application, the following link is quite useful:

In Victoria, installers and contractors must have a Class A Electrical Licence from Energy Safe Victoria. They also need accreditation from the Clean Energy Council Solar Scheme.


In Queensland, like Victoria and NSW, solar panels will be installed on Heritage houses. You only need exemptions or permits if the installation is visible from the street and in a noticeable spot.

Within the State of Queensland and around Australia you must have an accredited solar installer by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) Accreditation scheme and provide products that meet Australian standards that the CEC approves. Installers must also have a Queensland electrical contractors license and a Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) License.

installer drilling solar panel

South Australia 

For SA, like NSW and VIC, if the property is heritage-listed or resides in a listed heritage area. Then permits may need to be issued by the local council of the house if the panels are obtrusive or are visible from the street. A Clean Energy Council-registered electrician must complete the physical installation and labour associated with such. Who has successfully concluded the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (SA) Roof Safety Course?

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

ACT contractors/installers must maintain an electrical license and the standard Clean Energy Council accreditation. In the ACT, similar heritage rules apply as in other states.

Approval are only needed when you would like to install solar panels, given it is on a heritage-listed house or in a heritage area.

Western Australia

On non-heritage properties in Western Australia. No approvals are required unless the roof covers multiple dwellings or is a commercial building.


Tasmanian solar guidelines are similar to the other states. The local government area should be contacted if solar installation on a heritage listed site is required.

Northern Territory

To install solar panels on your property, you need building permits and final inspections from certified authorities. In Cyclonic regions of NT, certification is compulsory. Moreover, the Clean Energy Council must approve the fixing of PV panel support in non-cyclonic areas.

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