Kerry County Council (KCC) has confirmed that it will commence the process of reviewing its renewable energy policy on windfarms.
Council management briefed the members of KCC on the matter following last Monday’s monthly meeting at the Council Chamber in Tralee. The process will begin with a Landscape Character Assessment, and it is planned that this phase will be complete by the end of 2017.
A Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) prepared by KCC in 2012 found that “The majority of North Kerry landscapes were identified as ordinary” or “of no particular merit in terms of amenity”, a designation that caused anger in North Kerry.
Many locals felt that the document gave Carte Blanche for more wind farms to be developed in parts of North Kerry identified as strategic areas, described as ’eminently suitable for wind farm development’, and there have been calls ever since for the LCA to be reviewed. The document was referenced by An Bord Pleanála in its decision to grant planning for a €46 million, 10-turbine wind farm near Lixnaw.
The news that the renewable energy policy is to be reviewed comes on the back of an announcement by then Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD in June that a draft approach to a review of the national 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines had been developed.
The key aspects of the proposed national approach include a visual amenity setback of four times the turbine height between a turbine and the nearest residential property, a more stringent noise limit, and the elimination of shadow flicker.
Those draft national guidelines have yet to be published in full, and KCC said it will await these to further inform its review process.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Jimmy Moloney welcomed the news having been part of calls for a review over the last few years.
“It’ll be very welcome news in North Kerry that this controversial document will finally be reviewed,” he said.
“We’ve been working off national guidelines that are around 10 years out of date and I hope the public makes its voice heard during the upcoming process.”
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