Tag Archives: 2016

Donegal wind farm planning details in 2016

ballyshannon-windfarm-and-house2

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Withdrawn   1 4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


Irish wind output lows of 2016

2016-wind-low

As 2016 begins to fade into the memory the media will be full of lists of the “highs and lows” from the year.  Each year our blog report of the Irish wind farm output lows for the previous year (see 2014, 2015) is one of the most read posts on our blog, so here are the lows for 2016 (ROI).

As with last year our more traditional media only seem capable of reporting on wind output highs – no doubt the data is churned out of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) PR department, see for example New records set for wind energy generation across Ireland during Christmas 2016, and subsequent copy and paste articles on Irish Times and NewsTalk.

In order to provide a little balance set out below is a table of the lowest wind output recorded, for the Republic of Ireland, in each of the last twelve months.  The lowest recorded being sustained periods with no output at all in February, May and October and the annual record low falling on 16 May 2016 when wind output was at a sustained recorded level of -3MW (all figures were sourced from EirGrid information webpage).

Month Recorded Output Low Date & Time
January 29 19/01/2016 04:15
February 0 11/02/2016 14:00
March 12 22/03/2016 04:15
April 4 19/04/2016 05:15
May -3 16/05/2016 09:00
June 4 08/06/2016 08:15
July 8 22/07/2016 21:15
August 3 14/08/2016 10:15
September 17 19/09/2016 19:00
October -2 20/10/2016 17:15
November 7 02/11/2016 16:00
December 39 14/12/2016 17:30

For some context for readers in relation to the output figures, according to IWEA the island of Ireland has 249 wind farms (215 in ROI) with an installed capacity of 3,301MW (2,659.116MW in ROI).   Demand on the island of Ireland fluctuates between 2,600MW – 6,100MW but reached a high of 6,878MW in December 2010.  It is clear therefore that wind energy outputs of between 0MW – 39MW (ROI) represent a very poor return for the Republic’s 2,659MW installed capacity.

So, the next time you see a pro-wind advert (remember that unlawfully broadcast JFK Power to Power Ourselves advertisement) or read an IWEA inspired “record Irish wind output” story check back to this page and visit EirGrid’s information page to confirm that despite the spin, the energy produced by wind turbines is unpredictable, intermittent and totally dependent on the backup of conventional fossil fuelled power plants such as those fuelled by gas, oil, coal or peat.


Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016

It wasn’t just the Trump staff writers who employed ‘copy and paste’ these last few weeks it seems Sinn Féin have dusted down their Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 and reintroduced it (subject to one additional section, which we shall discuss below) as the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016.  This is in line with Motion 32 passed at the 2016 Ard Fheis, which seeks to “immediately implement legislation which would seek to impose strict setback distances on wind turbine developments.”

The 2016 version was introduced to the Dáil on 20 July 2016 by Brian Stanley TD who stated that:

This Bill seeks to introduce practical regulations that can be implemented so that wind farms are located in the right places. The regulations would allow for sensible development and the protection of our landscape and rural dwellers.

The location of wind farms is dealt with. The set back distance will be ten times the height of the wind turbine to the tip of the blade. Noise levels would have to be within WHO limits and shadow flicker from a propeller would not be permitted to pass over a house.

Legislative background

Sinn Féin are not the first legislators to tackle the growing disquiet and community disharmony with wind farm planning in Ireland.  In 2012 Labour Senator John Kelly introduced a Private Members Bill in the Seanad.  The Wind Turbines Bill 2012 stalled in the Seanad without any government support.  This was followed by another Private Members Bill this time introduced by Labour TD Willie Penrose, in the Dáil.  The Environment and Public Health (Wind Turbines) Bill 2012 mirrored the set back distances proposed by Senator Kelly and made a few token references to the Aarhus Convention and the duty of developers to engage in public consultation, with meaningful public participation, in relation to wind farm planning applications.  A further three copies of the Penrose Bill were introduced in 2013 by TDs:Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.  All of the Bills along with the Sinn Féin Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 fell with the dissolution of the previous Dáil.

Analysis of the Bill

As most elements of the 2016 Bill mirror those of the 2014 Bill we have copied those elements of our 2014 blog post below for your information:

Location of turbines

The Bill, at section 3, proposes that locations for the development of wind farms must be designated in County Development Plans  (CDPs).  Such designation must only be done with the approval of the elected members of the local authority.  Therefore applicants for permission will be statute barred from applying for planning permission in areas not designated for wind developmentin a CDP.  Set back distances are established, in section 6, on a proportional basis, with all turbines greater than 25 metres in height required to be located no less than ten times the maximum tip height of the turbine away from any dwelling.  No consent clause, to allow for closer siting, is provided for in the Bill.  Such deals would be clearly unlawful under section 8 of the Bill as would any similar contract with any person living within 3km, defined as the ‘host community’ of a wind farm.

Set back to apply to existing wind farms

Furthermore and most significantly, the Bill as currently drafted, will require existing wind farms to comply with these set back distances.   Section 7 provides that wind farm operators have one year from the enactment of the Bill to ensure compliance with the set back distances.  A further requirement in the Bill means that wind farm operators must notify residents within the set back zone and the relevant planning authority of their plans in relation to compliance with the set backs.  Compliance with the set back distances is also a matter which the Minister may consider when exercising functions in relation grant aid or financial assistance to wind farms including under the REFIT scheme.  Therefore failure to comply and remove turbines within the ten times set back zone may lead to a loss of REFIT assistance.   Failure to comply may also lead to further penalties under section 8 however these are not yet defined.

Noise and shadow flicker

The provisions relating to noise and shadow flicker (section 5) are relatively clear and require that all future applicants for permission and existing operators shall ensure:

(a) that the noise from the wind turbine does not exceed the noise limits specified in the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Community Noise (1999), or any preceding or replacement guidelines, and
(b) that the distance of the wind turbine is such that any shadow flicker from the turbine does not pass over the dwelling.

The compliance penalties of section 8 also apply to operators who do not adhere to the noise and shadow flicker requirements.  Again, these provision will relate to all existing wind farms, however no transitional procedures for existing wind farm operators are detailed in the Bill in relation to noise and shadow flicker.  Therefore no timeline for compliance is defined and it must be presumed to be effective from the date of enactment.

Public Consultation

A further section to be noted relates to the issue of public consultation in relation to wind farm planning applications.  Section 4 includes a few novel provisions in relation to the format of such consultation.   The standard newspaper notice for a planning application will now be required to include a copy of an ordinance survey map marked with the exact location of each proposed wind turbine.  In addition applicants for wind farm planning permission will be required to have notices broadcast on a local radio station broadcasting in the area of the proposed development to the effect that the developer is arranging a public meeting to be held at a named convenient time and in a named convenient location near to the proposed development, at which the public may submit, in writing or verbally any comments, information, analyses or opinions that they consider to be relevant to the proposed development.  A report from this public meeting must then be submitted, by the developer, to the local planning authority or An Bord Pleanála, as appropriate, as part of the planning process.  The meeting report must be part of the public file.

Health impact assessment

A final point to be noted is contained in Section 4 which details a range of information which must be included in any wind farm planning application.   Subsection 4(b)(ii) requires that a formal assessment in writing and a non-technical outline of the ‘potential impacts of the proposed [wind farm] construction on the physical and mental health of the host community’, that is anyone living within 3km of the proposed development, must be lodged with the local authority and public library in relation to the proposed wind farm.  The issue of health impact assessments is not novel and is required under the EIA Directive, however as pointed out by An Bord Pleanála’s senior inspector in his report (pages 46-48) on the Straboy wind farm oral hearing guidance is required in order to undertake such a health impact assessment.  A general review of wind farm planning applications indicates that it is rare, if ever, that a meaningful health impact assessment is undertaken in Ireland.  The Sinn Féin Bill does not provide guidance in relation to such an assessment but at least it does make a health impact assessment mandatory for all new developments.

Co-Ownership for Local Communities

The only change from the 2014 Bill is in relation to a new section 12 on Co-Ownership for Local Communities.  Sinn Féin like all other political parties have bought into the community acceptance model of planning and therefore see co-ownership of the wind farm as a solution.  Section 12 of the Bill provides that Wind Farm Developers must offer for sale to local residents, initially within 4km of a development, up to a 20% stake in the project.  If the full 20% not taken up within 12 months the wind farm developer must extend the offer to those living within 10km of the development for a further period of 6 months.

What is missing however is the Community Co-Operative element which Sinn Féin adopted motion 174 at their 2015 Ard Fheis and which provided that:

… this Ard Fheis calls for the granting of planning permission to an applicant for the development of Renewable Energy Generation of 1MW or above to be conditional upon the applicant entering into an agreement with the local authority to allocate 6.25% of company shares in the said development for the direct funding of community facilities in the vicinity of the development and for the co-operative ownership by the local community of a life interest in the development, that being the 6.25% of shares.

This 6.25% will be the minimum life interest the community co-operative can have in said development.  The allocation of said shares and any funds earned from such shares are to be held in trust by the local authority until a community co-operative can be formed for the local area. The community co-operative shall then allocate earnings from said shares to community projects and organisations in the immediate area.

Sinn Féin have clearly ditched their 2015 Ard Fheis motion, which forced free from compensation to the developer 6.25% ownership of the development into host community hands in favour of a forced shared investment offering model of up to 20% (developer gets paid for these shares).  It seems that the wind lobby have successfully overturned Sinn Féin policy adopted at an Ard Fheis.

Conclusion

The 2016 Bill is likely to remain in the legislative queue and shall not be passed in current Dáil.  It seems local communities threatened by wind farm developments must rely on the long awaited wind energy guidelines to provide some protection; the revision of the Guidelines began in January 2013 and remains incomplete with Minister Denis Naughten the latest to stone wall when questioned when they’ll be published.

Legislating for safe setbacks remains the only lasting solution to the problem facing local communities when faced by big wind.


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