Friday 26 December 2014

New rules ban wind farms being within 500m of homes

Published 12/12/2013 | 23:32

Wind farm
Wind farm

WIND turbines will not be constructed within 500 metres of homes under new regulations proposed by the Government.

The Department of the Environment says there must be a "minimum separation" of half a kilometre between a turbine and private home, unless the homeowner agrees to it being closer.

The regulations also propose a noise limit of 40 decibels in areas around wind farms, equivalent to that found in a residential area with no traffic.

Wind-farm operators will also be obliged to ensure there is no 'shadow flicker' -- where turbines cause shadows to intermittently fall across properties -- and if flickering occurs, the turbine will have to be powered off.

The proposal of the regulations, which are out for public consultation until February, is the first time in seven years that planning guidelines on wind farms have been updated.

Additional guidelines for large-scale wind farms, as proposed for the Midlands, will be published next year, and could include additional restrictions on developers.

Planning minister Jan O'Sullivan said the regulations had been drafted to see if the 2006 regulations remained appropriate.

"It is my intention that the final guidelines on wind energy development will have regard to the interests of communities, whilst at the same time recognising the importance of renewable, clean energy for the future of our environment and economy," she said.

"I am now commencing a public consultation on these revisions to the draft guidelines to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute their views before the guidelines are finalised next year.

"I anticipate significant interest in the public consultation process and look forward to receiving and considering evidence-based submissions on these draft revisions."

The guidelines were criticised by the Irish Planning Institute which said while updating the 2006 regulations was welcomed, further studies on how wind farms affected the landscape had to be conducted.

DEVELOPERS

"These technical guidelines cannot take key strategic issues on the future location of renewable energy projects into account," executive director Sean O'Leary said.

"To be most effective the guidelines require the context of a national strategy for renewable energy development alongside a national landscape strategy."

Developers have previously warned that introducing a mandatory distance separating turbines and homes would hamper the roll-out of wind energy.

The Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents developers, could not be reached for comment.

Submissions can be e-mailed to windsubmissions @environ.ie, up to February 21 next.

All submissions will be posted on the Department of the Environment's website.

Irish Independent

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