Deputy Cathal Crowe has called on the government to publish long-awaited new planing guidelines for wind turbines without any further delay.
Frustration is growing among communities throughout Clare who have major misgivings about the proliferation of wind turbines and the ongoing delay in updating the 2006 national wind energy guidelines.
In fact, the government commenced a public consultation process on these guidelines on December 12, 2019.
In November 2019, Deputy Crowe recalled they were due to come before the Dáil for ratification but these draft guidelines were not brought into law and have sat on Minister Eamon Ryan’s desk.
“I raised this at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party and I was backed up by a number of rural deputies.
“The National Guidelines on Wind Energy date back to 2006, which are outdated and not fit for purpose.
“New wind farm guidelines are absolutely vital, no matter what side of the fence you are on. If you want a proliferation of wind turbines, this policy will allow new age wind energy to be constructed around the country.
“If you are concerned about wind turbines, they will give some protection in terms of how far wind turbines should be set back from your property.
“We are dealing with archaic guidelines that local authorities aren’t sure they can follow any longer.”
Updated guidelines are sitting on Minister Ryan’s desk for more than two years. This is dealing projects that are strategically important and it is not giving protection to communities where there is a proliferation of wind turbines.
“I understand Minister Ryan has some concerns in relation to the noise emissions of the guidelines, which has resulted in delays in the deliberation.
“Darragh O’Brien said he would intervene and get the guidelines back on the agenda again in terms of ratification.
“A planning official not in Clare County Council contacted me to say planning authorities are finding it extremely difficult to adjudicate in wind farm planning cases,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, referred questions submitted to Minister Ryan to the Department of Housing.
A spokesman for the Department of Housing confirmed it is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including noise, setback distance, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.
Guidance on the noise aspect is currently being finalised by the Department in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, which has primary responsibility for environmental noise matters.
Significant work has been undertaken on the noise elements and engagement between the two Departments is ongoing to discuss new developments in this regard including consideration of the impact of the revised 2030 target to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources and the need to ensure that proposals regarding the measurement and assessment of noise from wind turbines are fit for purpose.
Following this inter-departmental engagement, the Department will be in a better position to provide an update on the expected publication date of the revised Guidelines, the finalisation of which remains a priority.
The spokesman noted that the review and finalisation of the Guidelines has been included as a specific action in the recently published Climate Action Plan.
However, when pressed further he was unable to provide a definitive time frame for the publication of these new wind farm guidelines.
When finalised, the revised Guidelines 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 generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines
remain in force.