Category Archives: Donegal

Irish government modelling of wind energy potential

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Today, 16 January 2017, almost four years on from the first public call for submissions on the proposed revision of the 2006 wind energy guidelines, we are sharing information in relation to modelling undertaken by the RPS Group, in 2015, which was commissioned by the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for the then Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (now the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) and the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (now the department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government).

RPS were commissioned to model Ireland’s land area and power generating potential from wind energy developments, taking into account a number of variable factors including:

  • Turbine size, type and hub/tip height;
  • Noise and shadow flicker;
  • Proposed setback distances;
  • Minimum wind speeds;
  • Terrain contours; and
  • Ground factors.

The background to this modelling was the proposed technical revision to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006. As regular readers of this blog will be aware the proposed technical revision has turned into a political hot potato with no Minister yet willing to stand up to the wind industry, despite the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment declaring that the current guidelines are ‘not fit for purpose’. The proposed Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and further consultation have still not been commenced.

Nevertheless, the discussion in the RPS Group, Report on Wind Turbine Noise Modelling, of 11 May 2015 is startling for most communities, as RPS through consultations with the wind industry expect tip heights of between 150m to 175m to be the norm for future developments, with 200m tip heights being required for some low wind sites.  Possible setback distances emerging from the acoustic modelling are also quiet frightening (see copy of table 3.2 below).

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Documents, in PDF, we are sharing are:

Further iterations of the modeling then followed which were also released:

Please note these documents were shared with us by a friend of this blog, who gained access to them under the Access to Environmental Information Regulations.  Access was only granted following a number of Appeals to the Commissioner for Environmental Information; with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, further delaying release for three months despite the Commissioners decision.  We are heartened that the Commissioner in deciding that these documents should be released stated:

In my opinion, it is at least possible that disclosure of the withheld information would help the public to scrutinise the reasons put forward by politicians in delaying this important policy decision.  I therefore accept that this public interest argument would favour disclosure now, before a decision is made.

… if disclosure were to lead to a submission being made to the Department which was of such import that it could not be ignored, such a submission would appear to be highly important and very much in the public interest. There is a strong public interest in making the decision [in relation to the revised guidelines] as soon as possible, but there is also a strong public interest in getting it right.
For these reasons I am not persuaded that disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. As that is my conclusion, I must find that refusal to provide access to the withheld information is not justified on this ground.

With the Commissioners words ringing in our ears we are calling on our readers and followers to review, scrutinise and find flaws in the reasons relied upon by your politicians and policy makers.

We are also welcoming guest blogs on this issue and if any of you out there want to provide some much needed technical analysis of these documents and to publish on this blog (or to make a valuable submission to the Minister), please e-mail us at: cawt.donegal@gmail.com.

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Donegal wind farm planning details in 2016

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For the second year in a row the number of wind turbines granted permission in county Donegal (24) was lower than the number refused (52).  This is a continuation of a significant trend for such decisions; with the total number of turbines refused permission in 2016 (52) being just one more than the combined total (51) of refusals for the two prior years 2014 and 2015.

Wind turbine permissions for Donegal, per year

Decision/Year

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Granted

87 67 94 11

24

Refused

5 7 19 32

52

Withdrawn   1 4

 

Detail in relation to wind farm and ancillary development decisions

There were a total of 31 planning determinations, dealing with wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal concluded during 2016.  Of these applications six were deemed invalid by Donegal County Council.  A total of seven applications were granted for turbines, totalling 24 turbines, and three applications were refused for a total of 52 turbines.  Of the permissions granted two were extensions of duration.

Three windmasts were granted permission (two being retentions).  One section 5 referral and one pre-application consultation were also determined by to An Bord Pleanála during the year.  Further applications determined and granted related to grid connections, substations and amendments to hardstands.  These decisions are most troubling as they clearly demonstrate the prior wind farm permissions and the necessary assessments were significantly flawed by either failing to include or minimising significant elements from the original applications.  Such project splitting and the unwillingness of An Bord Pleanála to adequately reassess applications under Environmental Impact Assessment laws are a growing concern.

One further point to note is that the continued uncertainty in Donegal in relation to the Wind Energy elements of the County Development Plan, in particular the ongoing court action being take by Cllr. John Campbell is adding to growing community and industry anxiety over wind farm planning in the County; with the issue of zoning and safe setbacks from homes to wind farms remaining in legal and planning limbo.

Note: current live applications for wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal can be found here, and a link to the wind turbine planning permissions for Donegal in 2014, 2015 are here and here.

The featured image was taken by Matt Britton at a wind farm near Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal – see @britpix on twitter.

Table of wind farm and ancillary development decisions in Donegal 2016

Name

Location Turbines Reference no. Type of App. Status

Decision Date

Carrickaduff Windfarm

Planree Ltd

Between Barnes and Killygordon 49

ABP: PA0040

Full PP REFUSED

25 March 2016

Clogheravaddy Wind Farm Ltd

Frosses 7

DCC: 14/51305

ABP: PL05E.244417

Full PP GRANTED

19 February 2016

Clogheravaddy wind Ltd

Binbane Grid Connection

DCC: 16/50440

Full PP INVALID

6 April 2016

Clogheravaddy wind Ltd

Binbane Grid Connection

DCC: 16/50473

ABP: PL05 .246851

Full PP DCC: Refused

ABP: GRANTED

DCC: 8 June 2016

ABP: 24 Nov 2016

Connective Energy Holdings Ltd

Meenagrauv

Ballybofey

1

DCC: 15/51071

Full PP GRANTED

15 May 2016

Corvin Wind Ltd

Bauville, Inishowen Substation

DCC: 16/51540

Full PP GRANTED

1 December 2016

Cufgaze Limited

Drumnahough and Lenalea Wind Farms to Clogher Substation Substation

&

Grid Connection

ABP: VC0097

Pre-App consultation Is not strategic infrastructure

20 October 2016

Cunard Asset Management

Meenhore

Grousehall

2

DCC: 16/50040

Full PP INVALID

21 January 2016

Cunard Asset Management

Meenhore

Grousehall

2

DCC: 16/50209

Full PP INVALID

11 April 2016

Cunard Asset Management

Meenhore

Grousehall

2

DCC: 16/50209

Full PP REFUSED

15 June 2016

Declan Clarke

Kinnegoe Bay 1

DCC: 15/51683

ABP: PL05.246265

Full PP REFUSED

12 July 2016

Derrykillew Community Windfarm Ltd

Derrykillew

Ballyshannon

5

DCC: 14/51400

ABP: PL05E.245108

Full PP GRANTED

18 March 2016

ESB Networks and EirGrid PLC

Donegal 110kv Alter 110kv line

ABP: PL05.VM0010

Full PP GRANTED

11 May 2016

ESB

Sorn Hill Station & Transformer

DCC: 16/50829

Extend Duration GRANTED

21 July 2016

Gineadóir Gaoith Teoranta

Cronalaght Substation

DCC:15/51726

Amend PP GRANTED

25 February 2016

Gineadior Gaoithe Teo.

Gweedore 5

DCC: 16/50989

ABP: PL05.247194

Amend turbines GRANTED

DCC: 18 August 2016

22 December 2016

Glenalla Green Ltd.

Garrymore

Kerrykeel

1

DCC: 16/50297

Extend duration GRANTED

21 April 2016

Karol McElhinney

Aheavagh, Ballybofey 1

DCC: 16/50540

Extend duration GRANTED

16 June 2016

Lettergull Energy Ltd

Raphoe to Listillion Grid connection

DCC: 15/50968

Full PP GRANTED

18 February 2016

Lir Energy Ltd

Gweedore 1

DCC: 16/51532

Full PP INVALID

20 October 2016

Lir Energy Ltd

Gweedore 1

DCC: 16/51486

Full PP INVALID

12 October 2016

Maas Wind Ltd

Maas 11 Hardstands

DCC: 16/50564

ABP: PL05 .246871

Full PP GRANTED

DCC: 10 June 2016

21 December 2016

Planree Ltd

Cornashesk, Killygordon Wind Mast

DCC: 16/50254

Retention GRANTED

21 April 2016

Planree Ltd

Meenbog, Ballybofey Wind Mast

DCC: 16/50348

Retention GRANTED

21 April 2016

Planree Ltd

Ballyarrell Mountain & Lismulladuff, Killygordan 2 met masts

ABP: PL05E.RL3419

s.5 referral Is development

(Not Exempted)

8 February 2016

Planree Ltd

Meenbog, Ballybofey Wind Mast

DCC: 16/50447

Full PP INVALID

7 April 2016

Planree Ltd

Meenbog

Ballybofey

Wind Mast

DCC: 16/50585

Full PP GRANTED

16 June 2016

proVento Ireland PLC

Tullylinn

Pettigoe

4

DCC: 13/51404

ABP: PL05E.245588

Full PP GranTED

30 August 2016


Donegal wind farm planning details in 2015

FWPM and Wind Farm Zones Dongeal 2013

For the first year since we began keeping these records, in 2012, the number of wind turbines granted permission in county Donegal (11) was lower than the number refused (32).  This is a significant change in the trend for such decisions; with the total number of turbines refused permission in 2015 (32) being just one less the the combined total (33) of refusals for the three prior years 2012-2014.

Wind turbine permissions for Donegal, per year

Decision

2012

2013 2014 2015

Granted

87 67 94

11

Refused

5

7 19

32

Withdrawn

1 4

On reviewing the figures for 2012 -2015 the question does arise as to why there is such a steep decline in permissions granted in 2015.  It is clear that public opinion has turned against wind farms in Donegal.  The proposed variation to the County Development Plan in 2014 to set a 10 times height setback and dezone fresh water pearl mussel catchements from wind farm development achieved 3,326 public submissions in its favour.  County Councillors backed this variation only to see the Minister issue a direction to reverse it but this has been appealed to the high court by former Chairman Cllr. John Campbell and awaits hearing – scheduled for June 2016.  As we commented before this legal stand-off leave considerable uncertainty for planners and developers; this may be the cause of the drop in permissions in 2015.

The other contributory factor is the ongoing delays at An Bord Pleanála with 81 wind turbines across 4 cases, relating to Donegal, awaiting decision for very considerable periods of time.  While the delays at An Bord Pleanála relate in the main to other legal issues the uncertainty in relation to the Donegal County Development plan and zoning is another legal lacuna which faces the Board.

Detail in relation to wind farm and anciallry development decisions

There were a total of 18 planning applications, dealing with wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal concluded during 2015.  Of these applications two were withdrawn.  The high-level figures indicate that in 2015 with respect to Donegal, permission was granted for 11 turbines and refused for 32 turbines.  Of the 11 turbine permissions two were height amendments and six were extensions of duration, leaving just four new permissions being granted during 2015.  Permission was also granted for two 110kv substations, an access route, lightning poles for a substation and 1km of 33kv underground cabling.

Note: current live applications for wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal can be found here, and a link to the wind turbine planning permissions in 2014 are here.

Table of decisions concluded in 2015

Name

Location Turbines Reference no. Type of App. Status

Decision Date

Altnagapple Wind Farm Ltd Ardara 13 DCC: 15/50265

ABP: PL05E.244918

Full PP REFUSED

30 April 2015

22 September 2015

Aught Wind Farm Ltd Trillick Aught 1km of 33kv u/g cable DCC: 15/50070 Full PP GRANTED 23 March 2015
Clogheravaddy Wind Farm Ltd Frosses 7 DCC: 14/51305

ABP: appeal ongoing

Full PP REFUSED 8 January 2015
Corvin Wind Limited

Bauville

Buncrana

2 DCC: 14/51295 Full PP GRANT = 1

REFUSED = 1

6 January 2015
Corvin Wind Limited

Bauville

Buncrana

1 DCC: 15/50117 Full PP GRANTED 26 March 2015
Declan Clarke

Crockbrackhill

Moville

2 DCC: 14/51367

ABP: PL05E.244481

Amend height GRANTED

22 January 2015

23 June 2015

Derrykillew Community Windfarm Ltd

Derrykillew

Ballyshannon

5 DCC: 14/51400

ABP: appeal ongoing

Full PP REFUSED 10 June 2015
Eamonn McElhinney

Liskeeran

Stranorlar

1 DCC: 15/50407 Ext. of time GRANTED 14 May 2015
Eamonn McElhinney Liskeeran

Stranorlar

1 DCC: 15/50406 Ext. of time GRANTED 14 May 2015
ESB

Meenacahan

Inver

110kv

substation

DCC: 15/50397 Full PP GRANTED 21 May 2015
ESB

Listillion

Letterkenny

110kv substation DCC: 15/50249 Alterations GRANTED 23 April 2015
ESB Networks & EirGrid

Binbane – Letterkenny

& Tievbrack

110kV line

& station

ABP: PL05.VC0071 Pre-app.

Consultation

WITHDRAWN 21 May 2015
Patrick Bonnar

Garvegort windfarm

Garvegort, Glebe

Ardara

4 DCC: 15/50054 Ext of time GRANTED 7 May 2015
GTBC

Aideen Brett

Meenhore

Grousehall

2 DCC: 14/51419 Full PP REFUSED 5 February 2015
Killin Hill Windfarm Ltd

Meenagranoge

Inver

Access route DCC: 15/51088 Full PP GRANTED 8 October 2015
Michael O’Donnell

Carricknamohill

Killybegs

1 DCC: 15/50047 Full PP GRANTED 25 June 2015
Power & Energy Holdings

Clogher Substation

Cullinaboy

Lightning Poles DCC: 15/50765 Full PP GRANTED 24 July 2015
proVento Ireland PLC

Tullylinn

Pettigoe

4 DCC: 13/51404 Full PP REFUSED 10 September 2015

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