Thursday, 25 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Wind Energy Guidelines
I agree wholeheartedly with Deputy Harkin. Our Department is currently undertaking a targeted review of the 2006 wind energy development guidelines. In line with the programme for Government, it is committed to concluding the review of the guidelines as soon as possible with a view to striking a better balance between matters of importance to local communities and the need to invest in indigenous renewable energy projects, having regard to our challenging renewable energy targets in the context of our EU commitments on climate change objectives.
The review is addressing a number of key aspects, including visual amenities, setback distances, sound or noise, shadow flicker, community obligations and dividends and grid connections. However, having regard to the peat slide incidents mentioned, consideration will be given to the possibility of further strengthening the provisions and guidelines relating to peatlands, with a view to ensuring, insofar as is possible, that these types of incidents will not be repeated in the future. We said last week on Shass Mountain that incidents like this will happen again.
Our report will inform a lot of our land use planning regarding this. There is no point in putting wind farms in the wrong place and then having a bog slide incident that will release far more carbon than will be gained in the short term. I would say the same for forestry. It is critically important, as the Deputy quite rightly said, that communities have a say and are part of this story.
That is why we have the public participation directive and why we are signatories to the Aarhus Convention. The public participation element of it must happen at pre-planning, well before any of these projects are put forward. I say that for any proposers of a project, be it a wind farm or whatever the development is. Communities must be engaged with in a meaningful way, not in a token, box-ticking consultation process. I hope that answers the Deputy's questions.