New accelerated EU procedures might have major impact on cultural heritage

Shortening procedures to place solar panels (maximum of 3 months) and heat pumps (1 to 3 months) are expected to have a significant impact on the protection of buildings and landscapes. Member states can exclude certain areas or structures from this rule but will it be enough?

Quicker procedures for solar panels could mark a change for heritage. Image: Canva

EU member states’ energy ministers have reached a final agreement on a regulation to speed up the authorisation process and rollout of renewable energy projects, Solar Magazine reported. “With this agreement, we are speeding up licensing procedures, which are often too long and cumbersome”, stated Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. What the agreement would mean for heritage remains unclear, but changes seem inevitable.

By shortening procedures to place solar panels (maximum of 3 months) and heat pumps (1 to 3 months) and several ways to (re)open renewable powerplants, the EU is now focused on speeding up the energy transition. And while they can exclude certain areas or structures to protect cultural heritage, national defence interests or security, chances are the authenticity of monuments and other built heritage could potentially suffer because of the quicker procedures. Something similar already happened in Germany in 2022.

Dutch Energy Minister Rob Jetten mentioned that the Netherlands would try to maintain regulation for heritage: “Solar on roofs is permit-free in most cases in the Netherlands. For the installation of solar panels in specific cases, including on monuments and in certain cases in protected village and cityscapes, a permit is required.”


“Speed in these cases should not come at the expense of a thorough process and here the Netherlands should explore the impact in more detail, so that cultural heritage can be preserved with care and the Netherlands adheres to international conventions on cultural heritage; the Granada Convention and the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.”