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Revised wind farm guidelines published in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne
Wind farm / Shutterstock

The Irish Government has announced the long-awaited major revision of guidelines for wind energy developments.

The proposed changes include the application of a more stringent noise limit, in tandem with a new robust noise-monitoring regime.

This regime requires 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 and measures to eliminate shadow flicker. This is the effect caused when rotating wind turbine blades periodically cast shadows through constrained openings such as the windows of neighbouring properties.

The guidelines mean the introduction of new obligations in relation to engagement with local communities by wind farm developers along with the provision of community benefit measures.

Under these new arrangements connections from wind farms to the national electricity grid would in future be underground – except where ground conditions ruled this out.

Ministers insisted that the proposals struck “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”.

The new statutory guidelines are expected to be finalised and issued to planning authorities in the first quarter of 2018.

Image credit | Shutterstock