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Parliamentary Question re: Publication of Revised Wind Energy Guidelines

Question No. 527,534,539 and 564

Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:

To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the publication of the revised wind energy guidelines; the reason for the delay to their publication; when he expects the new guidelines to be published; if the new guidelines will apply to SID projects where the planning application has already been submitted to An Bord Pleanála; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 6th May, 2015.

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly)

I propose to take Questions Nos . 527, 534, 539 a nd 564 together.

In December 2013, my Department published proposed “draft” revisions to the noise, setback distance and shadow flicker aspects of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines.

These draft revisions proposed:

The setting of a more stringent day and night noise limit of 40 decibels for future wind energy developments,

A mandatory minimum setback distance of 500 metres between a wind turbine and the nearest dwelling fo r amenity considerations, and

The complete elimination of shadow flicker between wind turbines and neighbouring dwellings.

A public consultation process was initiated on these proposed draft revisions to the Guidelines, which ran until February 21 2014. My Department received submissions from 7,500 organisations and members of the public during this period.

It is intended that the revisions to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines will be finalised as soon as possible. In this regard, account has to be taken of the extensive response to the public consultation in framing the final guidelines. Further work is also advancing to develop technical appendices to assist planning authorities with the practical application of the noise measurement as pects of the Wind Guidelines.

The revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006, when finalised, will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities, and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions under the Planning Acts.

The existing Wind Energy Development Guidelines (2006) provide guidance to planning authorities on aesthetic considerations in relation to the siting and design of wind energy developments in the landscape. In this regard, m y colleague the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has the lead Ministerial responsibility for developing the National Landscape Strategy, with input from my Department, along with other Departments and State Bodies. I understand that the National Landscape Strategy 2015-2025 is expected to be published in the coming weeks. The question of the development of guidelines, under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, for planning authorities in relation to the practical implementation of the Strategy will be considered in due course .

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s ( SEAI ) Wind Atlas is a digital map of Ireland’s wind energy resource.  It provides detailed information on wind speeds (calculated for different heights above ground level on a 100m horizontal grid basis), electricity transmission and distribution networks for specific locations around Ireland at national and county levels.

It is understood that SEAI completed its Wind Atlas in 2003, and an updated version, the Wind Atlas 2013 will be viewable on-line when software upgrades have been completed. I n the interim, the SEAI makes the new wind atlas data-sets available , on request , to professional Geographical Information Systems users and other organisations.

SEAI advise that the concept of average wind speed for a county has no practical application in the context of planni ng an individual wind energy development project.