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What is or is not acceptable noise from wind farms is to be the subject of a €100,000 review by the Department of the Environment.
A tender has been put out for a consultant to provide advice on what is an acceptable noise level from wind farms.
The contract is for technical acoustic input into a “review and redraft” of the noise elements of existing wind energy development guidelines (WEDGs).
The Government has been working since 2013 to issue revised WEDGs to replace the 2006 WEDGs.
In December 2013, an initial ‘targeted review’ of the 2006 WEDGs was commenced by the Department of Housing, focusing on amending provisions related to noise limits applicable to wind turbines, the minimum setback distance between residences and wind turbines, and shadow flicker.
The targeted review included a public consultation, which received 7,500 submissions, many of which related to the proposed amendments to noise limits.
The 2016 Programme for Partnership Government outlined a commitment to update the 2006 WEDGs, “to offer a better balance between the concerns of local communities and the need to invest in indigenous energy projects”.
A ‘preferred draft approach’ was agreed in 2017 which addressed key aspects including noise, setback distance, and shadow flicker.
Draft 2019 guidelines were then prepared for public consultation.
Revised WEDGs were subsequently issued for public consultation in December 2019.
According to the tender documents, this consultation gave rise to “a number of technical issues” in respect of the draft text, including noise assessment considerations.
The Government has been trying to resolve these issues ever since.
Changes in policy context
Since the publication of the 2019 draft there have been significant changes in the international and national policy context regarding renewable electricity, said the Government.
It says it may now be necessary to amend the previous approach to the draft guidelines.
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