Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (18)

Robert Troy


18. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the date on which new guidelines for the planning of onshore wind farms will be published; if he is concerned that wind energy companies may seek to submit their planning proposals in advance of new planning guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44965/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in conjunction with my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, is undertaking a review of the Wind Energy Guidelines which will address the key issues of noise (including separation distance) and shadow flicker. Draft guidelines will be published for public consultation by end-November 2013 with a view to finalising guidelines by mid–2014. The revised guidelines will apply to all wind farm development in Ireland, and there is nothing to preclude wind energy projects submitting planning proposals for wind farms to meet Ireland's domestic renewable energy requirements while the review is being completed.

Planning permission for major renewable energy projects of significant scale for export, which will be determined by An Bord Pleanála, must await the putting in place of a clear national planning policy framework and I have asked my Department to prepare such a framework. The policy framework will provide the opportunity to integrate relevant EU Directive requirements (including Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment), trans-boundary dimensions and stakeholder participation within the context of a national framework. The outcome will be a high level development framework taking its lead from an Inter-Governmental Agreement, EU Directive requirements and relevant national, regional and local planning policy considerations in conjunction with wider policies, objectives and requirements. It will incorporate a vision and strategy coupled with technical parameters and a spatial element.

The development of the framework will be progressed by my Department over the next 12 to 15 months and will provide confidence and certainty for all stakeholders through an open, fair, balanced and consultative process. The initial phase of public consultation has now commenced and all interested parties and members of the public have been formally invited to make written submissions on the export project which will be taken into consideration in preparing the framework. Details can be found on a new dedicated section on my Department's website, exclusive to the project, and which will be updated as the project progresses.