New wind energy development guidelines proposed

The Government has this week announced the initial outcome of a major revision of controversial guidelines for wind energy developments.

The amendments to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines were presented by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney, and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten.

Minister Coveney said the preferred draft approach “strikes the appropriate balance between facilitating future wind energy projects, in the context of ensuring we can deliver on our EU renewable energy targets, while simultaneously addressing the genuine concerns of local communities in the areas where wind farm developments are proposed”.

“It is important that we are in a position to give greater clarity to stakeholders, local authorities, the energy sector and the wider community as to the broad direction that the review is taking, which will be subject to the Strategic Environmental Assessment process and involve public consultation,” he added.

The new statutory guidelines is expected to be finalised with a view to be issued to planning authorities in the first quarter of next year.

The proposed changes include:

  • the application of a more stringent noise limit, consistent with World Health Organisation standards, in tandem with a new robust noise monitoring regime, to ensure compliance with noise standards;
  • a visual amenity setback of four times the turbine height between a wind turbine and the nearest residential property, subject to a mandatory minimum distance of 500 metres;
  • the elimination of shadow flicker (the effect caused when rotating wind turbine blades periodically cast shadows through constrained openings such as the windows of neighbouring properties); and
  • the introduction of new obligations in relation to engagement with local communities by wind farm developers along with the provision of community benefit measures.

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