“These guidelines are an absolute disgrace and an insult to the inhabitants of rural Ireland,” says Stephen Carroll, chair of the Rhode Parish Wind Turbine Action Group.
He was responding to the new guidelines published in one of Simon Coveney’s last actions as Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.
The proposed changes to the 2006 guidelines include a new setback distance of four times the height of a turbine, subject to the mandatory minimum setback distance of 500m.
Other proposed changes include the application of a “more stringent noise limit, consistent with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, in tandem with a new robust noise monitoring regime, to ensure compliance with noise standards”, the elimination of shadow flicker and the introduction of new obligations relating to engagement with communities.
Minister Coveney, who said that the guidelines should be finalised by early next year, said that the new proposals “strikes the appropriate balance between facilitating future wind energy projects, in the context of ensuring we can deliver on our EU renewable energy targets, while simultaneously addressing the genuine concerns of local communities in the areas where wind farm developments are proposed”.
Minister Coveney went on to say that following the SEA process, the new statutory guidelines will be finalised and issued to planning authorities in the first quarter of next year.
However, Mr Carroll says there’s a long way to go before the new guidelines come to fruition.
“They have to go back for consultation and will have to be subject to a Strategic Enviornmental Assessment (SEA). If the SEA is done properly, there’s no way a 500m setback distance will be allowed,” continued Mr Carroll.
“Ireland’s NREAP (National Renewable Energy Action Plan) is a flawed policy, because an SEA has never been carried out on it. If an SEA was carried out, it would call for a 1.3km setback distance at least.”
“Europe is already examining Ireland in relation to non-compliance, that’s why the SEA is coming up. But we can only highlight these inefficiencies.”
“The governement is aware of all the facts and they should stand up and do what’s binding by law. They should play by the European directives on this, without that we won’t accept any plan.
“When everything is done by the book, only then will we accept the guidelines,” finished Mr Carroll.
A seminar on Wind Turbine Noise will take place on Friday June 30 in Bridge House Hotel at 7.30pm which is free and open to the public.
It will be given by Dr Mariana Alves-Pereira from the Lusofona University in Lisbon, an expert on infrasound and low frequency noise associated with wind turbines.
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