Solar Industry Hit by More Red Tape

New building regulations enacted in November last year require a council permit or a building surveyor assessment before installation of systems over 18 square metres - similar to 11 panels.

However, it appears many installers were unaware or acting in defiance of the regulations, which sit on top of existing safety measures.

North-West installer Adrian Luke said the changes were still filtering through the industry.

When they brought it in in November last year, no one told anyone,'' he said.

Mr Luke said the additional cost was a major issue that had to be passed on to consumers.

If you do the sums it can add an extra $2500 . . . but my biggest bugbear is there are already systems in place to give the customers peace of mind,'' he said.

Mr Luke said he was aware of councils sending please explain'' letters to residents with new panels, threatening fines.

Last month, Workplace Standards issued a clarifying advisory for the industry, and yesterday Workplace Relations Minister David O'Byrne said the policy was being reviewed.

The building regulation is another blow for the industry after the government slashed the feed-in tariff for new installations, reducing their viability.

Hobart-based retailer Matthew Millington said there was still confusion around the red tape, which slowed down the whole process''.

We've got all these sales and we can't go out and install them until we're sure . . . we don't want to leave our customers or installers liable,'' Mr Millington said.

No one told us about the change until we got wind of it around the feed-in period recently.''

Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth said the regulation had the potential to kill solar businesses, saying thousands of dollars could be added to some system installations.

This pointless piece of red tape will drive up the price for consumers and could send some solar companies to the wall,'' Mr Booth said.

Every solar installation is already required to be engineered, installed and inspected according to Australian Standards and these regulations are nothing more than paper shuffling nonsense.''

Mr O'Byrne said a review is under way to ensure that the policy settings remain appropriate with regards to solar panel installations, however the safety and welfare of Tasmanians will always be paramount''.

We are not looking to add to the compliance burden on the building industry - to the contrary, we are looking to reduce it,'' Mr O'Byrnesaid.

Mr Booth said if Mr O'Byrne wasn't willing to make the change, the Greens would look to partner with the Liberals in Parliament to amend the law.

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