Draft guidelines for planning authorities on wind energy development were published for public consultation on 4 August 2004. A total of 65 submissions were received by the closing date for the receipt of submissions on 30 September 2004. They are now under consideration by my Department. It is intended to publish the finalised guidelines in early 2005. Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála will be required to have regard to them thereafter.
Regarding areas designated for natural heritage protection, the draft guidelines state that the designation of a site for conservation of natural or geological does not preclude the development of wind energy. The draft guidelines advise that "the best results in relation to incorporation of heritage considerations into development proposals in designated sites are achieved where prospective applicants and planning authorities work together to identify whether the development may impinge upon particular aspects of heritage, with a view to agreeing on any measures that may be needed to avoid or minimise any potential adverse impacts on heritage."