Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (380)

Robert Troy

Question:

380. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he intends to commission any independent studies into the adverse health effect that low frequency noise has on residents who live close to wind turbines. [12546/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government has published Guidelines related to Wind Energy Planning. These are available on that Department’s website at www.environ.ie.

The Wind Energy 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.

A focussed revision of these Guidelines is currently underway. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in conjunction with my Department, is undertaking a technical update of the guidance on noise (including separation distance) and shadow flicker in the Guidelines (the Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006). This update is intended to ensure that the Guidelines are supported by a robust and up to date evidence base on these issues to support wind energy development in a manner which safeguards residential amenity consistent with EU and National Policy. Submissions from the public on these aspects of the Guidelines were received in February 2013 and these are currently being considered.

The two Departments have agreed with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) that SEAI will tender for a desk based study to review and provide advice on the impact of related to onshore windfarms and that the output from this will be used to inform the focussed revision of the Guidelines.