Waterford City & County Council say it has no choice but to adhere to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines until new statutory guidelines are finalised, expected in the first quarter of 2018, despite recently published draft revision of the guidelines connoting that the current guidelines are archaic.
Proposed changes to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines were outlined last month by the Department for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.
Changes are proposed on a range of issues, from noise levels, distance of wind turbines to dwellings, shadow flicker and engagement with local communities.
Speaking at the July meeting of Dungarvan/Lismore Municipal Authority, Cllr James Tobin stated his belief that no planning applications should be granted for wind turbines until such time that the new guidelines have been finalised and approved. He said if there is a need to address and alter the 2006 guidelines, then these guidelines should be viewed as ‘completely wrong’.
“We were told there was no problem with noise, so if they’re putting in new guidelines to do with noise, they’re must have been noise. We were told there was no problem with flicker, so if they’re introducing something to stop flicker, there must have been flicker. I honestly believe they’ve put this council in a very awkward situation. We shouldn’t be giving any plannings for wind turbines until there is a concrete decision on what is proposed,” he said.
Cllr Siobhán Whelan, in support, said there shouldn’t be any more planning permission given for wind farms at the current time.
The proposed changes to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines include a more stringent noise limit, in line with WHO Health Organisation standards; the outright elimination of shadow flicker; and visual amenity setback of four times the turbine height between a wind turbine and the nearest residential property, subject to a minimum distance of 500 metres.
FURTHER TURBINES REQUIRED
The proposed changes also look at greater engagement with local communities and the provision of community benefit measures. Council engineer Jim Lenane, said the reality of the situation is that they are unable to stop planning applications being made for any development.
“If the development is in accordance with the development plan, then we would be obliged to grant permission, subject to conditions that the development is carried out properly.
“At the moment the only guidelines we have in place are the 2006 guidelienes. We have to be guided by those and we have to be guided by government policy on renewable energy. It’s the guidelines that are in place that we have to go with. I’ve no doubt in my mind that if we refuse and it goes to An Bord Pleanála, they will grant it on the basis of the guidelines that are in place.”
Mr Lenane added that further wind turbines are required within the county to ‘satisfy demand’ in relation to their renewable energy strategy plan.