Thursday, 24 June 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
28. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will issue a circular to all local authorities seeking a moratorium on the processing of new planning applications for wind farms until new national guidelines on wind energy, which are imminent, are introduced. [33672/21]
My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.
As part of the overall review process, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.
As part of the SEA process, the previous Minister launched a ten-week public consultation on the draft revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines on 12 December 2019. The documents prepared for consultation are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/consultation/8f3c71-public-consultation-on-the-revised-wind-energy-development-guideline/
The consultation closed on 19 February 2020. Almost 500 submissions were received as part of the public consultation, many of which are quite detailed and technical in nature. My Department and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) have analysed the submissions received in conjunction with the contracted SEA and noise consultants, and are in the process of preparing finalised guidelines having undertaken detailed consideration and analysis of the submissions received.
My Department is currently finalising the technical guidance on the noise aspect in conjunction with DECC (which has primary responsibility for environmental noise matters). However, this piece of work is quite technical in nature and a small number of matters remain to be resolved in this regard.
Once the outstanding issues have been finalised by both Departments, the proposed amendments will need to be reviewed by the SEA consultants in order to conclude the SEA process.
My Department, in consultation with DECC, is endeavouring to finalise and publish the revised Guidelines as quickly as possible.
When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála, must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.
Proposals for wind energy developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, in the same manner as other forms of proposed development. In this connection, it is not intended to place a moratorium on planning applications for wind farm developments as referred to pending the finalisation of the revisions to the 2006 Guidelines.