Due to a huge number of submissions from rural homeowners and the wind industry, new guidelines stipulating where wind farms can be built won’t be published by September as originally planned, according to the Department of the Environment.
Over 7,500 submissions were received by the Department of the Environment following the publication of draft guidelines at the end of last year. The controversial guidelines focused around noise from turbines, proximity to dwellings and shadow flicker, and had been criticised by the pro-wind and anti-wind lobbies.
But, it has also emerged that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is now seeking tenders to complete a study on the impact of noise limits on the location and scale of wind turbine development in Ireland.
This latest report follows on from an earlier study it commissioned from Marshall Day Acoustics, which concluded when published last year that “greater clarity” around noise limits and noise assessment was required. It described the existing guidelines as “ambiguous”.
However, when new draft guidelines were published subsequently, based on this Marshall Day report, the wind energy sector described the recommendations as “disproportionate”.
The Irish Wind Energy Association’s (IWEA) chief operating officer, Caitriona Diviney, said yesterday “that there is not an issue in terms of noise or shadow flicker to be solved. This can be verified by the Department and local authorities.
“IWEA feel that the extreme proposals relating to noise and shadow flicker put forward in the guidelines are severely out of scale with reality and are unsubstantiated and unjustified,” she said.
IWEA also warned that the proposed department revisions “lack the necessary appendices vital to allow for clear and factual scrutiny of the evidential and factual detail on which the revisions are based, and on the vital detail on how they are to work in practice”.
The association warned “this lack of detail” could “leave the document open to question”.
The draft guidelines suggested a more stringent, outside noise limit of 40dB for all new wind farms. A mandatory setback of 500 metres between a wind turbine and the nearest dwelling was also mooted.
The guidelines also recommended that shadow flicker should be ruled out at any dwelling within 10 rotor diameters of a wind turbine. If shadow flicker does occur, the wind energy developer or operator will be required to take necessary measures, such as shutting down the turbine temporarily.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said: “It is intended to finalise the revised wind energy guidelines later this year and they will then be issued to planning authorities.”