Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Topical Issue Debate
Alternative Energy Projects
Companies cannot sweep aside county development plans. Any planning application is subject to planning rules and must take account of such plans, whether the issue is being decided locally or is going to An Bord Pleanála. There is no nod and wink. I want to make that clear to Deputy Colreavy.
It is well to be clear there are two types of wind projects currently being processed - those that contribute to our domestic targets and those for export to the United Kingdom. They have very separate hoops to negotiate. Before they can progress, the proposed export projects - those I believe the Deputy is concerned about in the main - must await the completion of an intergovernmental agreement with the UK, as the Deputy noted; the putting in place of an overall policy and planning framework, underpinned by a strategic environment assessment, to ensure that only appropriate development takes place; and the obtaining of planning information informed by this policy framework. The framework will be prepared over the coming year and will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders, including local authorities, potential project developers and local communities to be consulted and have an input into the national policy for wind export. There is a difference, therefore, between the export projects and those that are for our own need and use and it is important people understand that. Obviously this crosses over and the Marshal Day research is being done under the Department of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, while the planning guidelines are being done under my Department.
In regard to planning guidelines, there were already 550 submissions in the pre-consultation process which we initiated earlier this year. I reiterate there will be another round of public consultation after the revised draft guidelines are made available. When published, the final wind energy development guidelines will take cognisance of all views. The two processes are side by side, with the guidelines under my remit. We will publish the draft guidelines later this year which will then go for public consultation that could last up to two months. They will be adopted some time next year. The others that concern export have a considerable number of hoops to go through, which I have just put on the public record.