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Proposed new wind energy development guidelines

  • Ireland
  • General

16-06-2017

The Government has announced details of its proposed new wind energy development guidelines. Below are the key points from information released by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on 13 June 2017.

The current guidelines have been in place since 2006 (the “2006 Guidelines”) and the replacement guidelines have been long in gestation.

Key Points

1. New noise limits
There are currently no rules in place in Ireland in respect of noise levels. It is generally accepted that the World Health Organisation rules are those which should be adhered to. Under the new guidelines, the noise level should not exceed 5 dB(A) over and above normal background noise within the range of 35 to 43 dB(A), with 43 dB(A) being the maximum noise level permitted. The maximum noise level permitted will be the same for both night and day.

A new noise monitoring regime is also being proposed and a breach of the noise limit will result in the turbine being turned off until compliance with the noise limits is proven.

2. Visual amenity setback
The 2006 Guidelines state that “noise is unlikely to be a significant problem where the distance from the nearest turbine to any noise sensitive property is more than 500 metres”. The new guidelines propose that wind turbines will have to be built at a distance of 4 times the tip height of the turbine from the nearest residence subject to a mandatory minimum setback distance of 500 metres.

3. Shadow flicker
It is proposed that wind farms will be required to eliminate shadow flicker completely. This new rule is a zero tolerance policy and should turbines not be in compliance with this, then the turbine should turn off automatically. The guidelines state that shadow flicker should be eliminated through “technology and appropriate modelling at design stage”.

4. Community consultation and dividend
Under the new guidelines, communities will have to be involved before the planning application for the wind farm is submitted. The application should include a report which explains how consultation with the community effected the application and it should also ensure a long term benefit and dividend to the community.

5. Grid connection
It is proposed that connections from wind farms to the national electricity grid will be underground
unless ground conditions prevent this.

The Environmental Protection Agency will be tasked with policing sound levels and enforcement of noise limit rules will lie with local authorities.

While the Minister says this “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 area where wind farm developments are proposed”, the reaction is likely to be frustration on the part of developers and communities.

How the guidelines themselves will operate in practice is something that will have to be worked out over the next number of months.

For more information contact:

Jim Trueick
Partner
+353 1 6644247
jimtrueick@eversheds-sutheland.ie

Stephen Barry
Partner
+353 1 6644284
stephenbarry@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Mark Varian
Partner
+353 1 6644341
markvarian@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Aishlinn Maria Gannon
Solicitor
+353 1 6644271
AishlinnMariaGannon@eversheds-sutherland.ie

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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