Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (376)

Willie Penrose


376. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will take steps to initiate and undertake a strategic environmental assessment of Ireland's overall onshore wind energy strategy similar to that which was initiated in 2011 which undertook an assessment of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing Ireland's offshore wind energy plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12507/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I intend to finalise the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the draft Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP), on which a public consultation has been held, in the coming months and to publish the final OREDP, including appropriate assessment decision and SEA Statement at that time. EirGrid has undertaken and published an SEA on the implementation plans for Grid 25, and this is available on the EirGrid website, www.eirgrid.com.

The Department of Environment has published guidelines related to Wind Energy Planning. These are available on the Department of Environment website at www.environ.ie. A focused revision of these guidelines is currently underway.

The guidelines offer advice to planning authorities on planning for wind energy through the development plan process and in determining applications for planning permission. The guidelines are also intended to ensure a consistency of approach throughout the country in the identification of suitable locations for wind energy development and the treatment of planning applications for wind energy developments. The guidelines are also intended to be of assistance to developers and the wider public in considering wind energy development. The guidelines were issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, which requires both planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to them in the performance of their functions.

Each local authority is required to publish a development plan, setting out the overall planning policies of the local area for a 6 year period and in doing so, they are statutorily required to have regard to the Wind Energy Planning Guidelines. Each local authority Development Plan is the subject of a strategic environmental assessment, which has taken wind energy development into account.