Tag Archives: wind

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Withdrawn   1 4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

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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.


Francis Clauson: Challenging the implementation of a planning permission

Guide-to-planning-enforcement in Ireland

This is a guest post from Francis Clauson.  He has the misfortune of living next door to a multiple wind farms and has many years experience in trying to engage with his local authority to enforce noise conditions related to the wind farm’s planning permission.  You can also follow him on twitter @fclauson.

___________________________________________________

The Planning and Development Act 2000 (PDA), as amended, has a number of options where a member of the public can challenge the implementation of a planning permission without necessarily going through the rigours and vast expense of a court case.

All planning permissions once decided comes with a set of planning conditions which need to be complied with. In the event that any of the conditions are either breached or not complied with then any member of the public can make a complaint to the appropriate local authority who, under Section 152 of the PDA, must, upon consideration, write a “Warning Letter” and follow this up with appropriate investigation to determine if a development is fully complying with the laid down planning conditions.  This provides an effective method of engaging with the planning process post determination.  Despite my own experiences in this matter where investigations have far exceeded the targeted 12 weeks dead line outlined in the PDA any LA investigation which does not confirm full compliance with a grant of planning and its conditions following a complaint leaves a defect on the planning permission and the associated development until the matter is resolved.  This might have financial or re-sale implication for the development and would be something most developers would want to resolve quickly.

Writing a letter to the Local Authority is a simple but effective way of asking the planning authority to pursue the matter of a potential breach on your behalf.  Importantly it costs nothing.   Obviously vexatious or unsubstantiated complaints will not be tolerated so always stick to facts in your letter and provide as much evidence to back up you argument as possible.  A useful guide can be found here (PDF).

Section 5

A second way of engaging with the planning process is where you believe the planning process has been circumvented.  Specifically where a developer believes an aspect of a development is an “exempt development”.  In this instance you can ask the Local Authority under Section 5 of the PDA to make a determination if a development is an exempt development or not.  Many of the wind farm developments have been built without proper planning for the grid connection.  In the O’Grianna case the judge made it clear that the grid connection forms part of the “development” which needs to be subject to the rigours of the EIA process and there for cannot be an exempt development.  This is picked up in PDA 2000 Part 1(4)(4)

Notwithstanding paragraphs (a), (i), (ia) and (l) of subsection (1) and any regulations under subsection (2), development shall not be exempted development if an environmental impact assessment or an appropriate assessment of the development is required.

(emphasis added)

Section 5 determinations cost a small fee of €80.  A useful guide can be found here and Dublin City Section 5 advice (other councils have similar guides) although most of these are written where developers are seeking confirmation that an exemption applies.

As an example, the Kilvinane Wind Farm Limited development asked Cork CC for a determination over the matter of turbine size/output/location.  This was appealed to An Bord Pleanála who determined that such a change in particulars from the original planning application was material and as such the development was a development and it was not exempt.  The An Bord Pleanála determination is here.

This determination effectively made the development an unauthorised development but there is a “get out of jail card” following the European Commission v Ireland Case C‑215/06.  Using Section 177C of the PDA the developer applied for a Substitute Planning Consent.  The first stage is to request permission to apply for substitute planning, to An Bord Pleanála, and the report for this can be found here.  What is useful is the inspector’s report (PDF) which laid out how the test for “exceptional” circumstances might be assessed.  It’s only in such circumstances that 177C can be called upon.  Part X of the planning act which contains 177C was added following CJEU Case C‑215/06.

Kilvinane subsequently applied for substitute consent (here) and the decision is due on 25 February 2016.  What is interesting about this case is that the developer made the decision themselves to apply for substitute consent under 177C because, I assume, they did not want a defect left on the development effecting future re-sell/financing matters.  It is not clear what would have happened if the developer had not as the wording of 177B has not been tested in court (to my knowledge).  It’s my understanding the local authority would have no choice but to pursue under Section 160 of the PDA as an unauthorised development because 177B does not offer a route to enforce a 177B request without a court order to do so.

A note on Section 160 (enforcement):

  • the local authority can only pursue a development under this section for the first 7 years following the commencement of the development.  Once 7 years is up then the local authority is powerless to take action.
  • a member of the public can take a Section 160 at any time but I would suggest you read the Derrybrien Supreme Court judgment to show the level of latitude the court can take in agreeing with a plaintiff.

In terms of Section 5 referrals it’s worth considering and taking a look at 6 wind farm related referrals currently under consideration by An Bord Pleanála:

Investigation by the Commissioner for Energy Regulation (CER)

A separate approach is that any generator who is operating over a grid connection which does not have the benefit of planning would be exposed to investigation by the Commissioner for Energy Regulation (CER) although to date there is little evidence of them taking a rigorous approach to this as they have generally offloaded the onus of invalid or incomplete planning permission to local authorities.

This needs to be addressed as a key tenet of the generation licence is compliance with both European and Irish planning and environmental law.  This obligation for the CER to enforce its licence can be found in the Electrical Regulation Act 1999 (as amended) where it sets out clear requirements for the CER, including under Section 9(5):

(g) to grant, monitor the performance of, modify, revoke and enforce licences and authorisations pursuant to this Act,

Conclusion

Members of the public should ensure the use every avenue possible to insist that any development complies with its laid down planning conditions.  In summary the options open to make a challenge are:

  • Submission at time of planning to local authority;
  • Appeals and submissions to An Bord Pleanála;
  • Judicial Review where there is a belief An Bord Pleanála have failed to be rigorous in their duties;
  • Section 152 complaints to local authorities if any planning conditions are not complied with;
  • Section 5 determinations request where parts of development have circumvented EIA processes; and
  • Letters to CER asking them to confirm that a generation licence is being complied with.

____________________________________________

Last updated: 10 January 2016

We are also aware of the high court cases in relation to the Kilvinane wind farm.  In our wind farms in the Irish courts 2015 blog we advise:

Kilvinane Wind Farm limited v An Bord Pleanála 2012.129 JR, appears to be on hold awaiting outcome of appeal of Bailey -v- Kilvinane wind farm Ltd [2014] IEHC 509, under supreme court reference 491/13.

 


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