11.5.3 Development Management Guidance

Closeddate_range22 Dec, 2020, 9:00am - 12 Mar, 2021, 5:00pm
11.5.3 Development Management Guidance

All wind farm applications will be assessed in accordance with the draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines[1] and the Wind Energy Development Strategy, as outlined in Appendix K. 

In accordance with the guidance, when considering an application for wind energy development, the planning authority may consider some if not all of the following matters:

  • Environmental Assessments (EIA, AA etc. See 10.5.3.1 below) including mitigation included in Construction Environment Management Plans (CEMPs);
  • Community engagement and participation aspects of the proposal and how its Community Benefit Fund will contribute to the wider County of Kilkenny’s Energy Efficiency targets at a local level. (the www.3cea.ie coordinate such proposals under the County Climate Action Plan.)
  • Grid Connection details
  • Geology and ground conditions, including peat stability; and management plans to deal with any potential material impact. Reference should be made to the National Landslide Susceptibility Map to confirm ground conditions are suitably stable for project;
  • Site drainage and hydrological effects, such as
    • water supply and quality and watercourse crossings;
    • management plans to deal with any potential material impact on watercourses;
    • the hydrological table;
    • flood risk including mitigation measures;
  • Landscape and visual impact assessment, including the size, scale and layout and the degree to which the wind energy project is visible over certain areas and in certain views;
  • Visual impact of ancillary development, such as grid connection and access roads;
  • Potential impact of the project on natural heritage, to include direct and indirect effects on protected sites or species, on habitats of ecological sensitivity and biodiversity value and, where necessary, management plans to deal with the satisfactory co-existence of the wind energy development and the particular species/habitat identified;
  • Potential impact of the project on the built heritage including archaeological and architectural heritage;
  • It is recommended that consideration of carbon emissions balance is demonstrated when the wind energy developments requires peat extraction.
  • Local environmental impacts including noise, shadow flicker, electromagnetic interference, etc.;
  • Adequacy of local access road network to facilitate construction of the project and transportation of large machinery and turbine parts to site, including a traffic management plan;
  • Information on any cumulative effects due to other projects, including effects on natural heritage and visual effects;
  • Information on the location of quarries to be used or borrow pits proposed during the construction phase and associated remedial works thereafter;
  • Disposal or elimination of waste/surplus material from construction/site clearance, particularly significant for peatland

 

​​​​​​​11.5.3.1 Environmental Assessments

The assessment of the impacts of developments shall comply with the relevant European Directives as transposed into Irish legislation, including the EIA Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. As regards the directives, these assessments will relate to all mandatory categories and where, following screening, if required, a full EIAR or NIS is produced, these must include the impacts of both the planning application and its grid connections. In relation to EIAR, the assessment must address the direct effects and any short, medium and long-term, permanent and temporary, positive and negative, indirect, secondary, cumulative and transboundary effects of the whole project, i.e. the wind energy development and the grid connection. In relation to the grid connection it is preferable that the corridor approach be used. In relation to NIS, the assessment shall consider all potential impacts on Natura 2000 sites.

It is recommended that Construction Environment Management Plans (CEMPs) of projects be submitted with applications. These plans generally include mitigation measures which should ideally input into both Environmental Impact Assessment Report or Appropriate Assessment at planning application stage. All planning application submission (and in particular the EIAR) must include details of the site compound and access arrangements. The applications must include details of the location and design of the site compound and construction methods, environmental mitigation methods and proposed reinstatement.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.2 Pre-planning and public consultation

Applicants for small- or large-scale wind farms shall be required to engage with the local population in the vicinity of any proposed wind farm, prior to lodging their application.  Such consultation shall follow the format of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines. Wind energy developers are now required to, in advance of submitting applications for permission, take active steps to inform local communities as they begin to develop their proposals. This meaningful community consultation will allow developers to establish a relationship with the affected communities, refine their design and explain the potential benefits more clearly to communities.

A Community Report will accordingly be required to be submitted with every application for wind energy development and conditions issued with the permission, where granted, will require the developer to carry out the development in accordance with the community report.

The Community Report shall detail the following:

1.         A map of the proposed project and the communities in the vicinity of the proposal within a radius of up to approximately 10 km of the turbines, depending on the circumstances of the case

2.         The steps taken by the applicant seeking planning permission for the wind energy development to seek out the views of relevant communities in developing the project

3.         A summary of the responses received as a result of the engagement process and a statement of any principal design adjustments or modifications undertaken in response to the feedback of the community before the project was submitted for planning permission;

4.         Proposed details as regards the steps to be taken to ensure that the proposed development will be of enduring economic benefit to the communities concerned, through the negotiation of a form of community investment/ownership, benefit or dividend (see section 5.10 of the Guidelines)[2];

5.         Demonstrate how the proposed development will adhere to the Code of Practice for Wind Energy Development in Ireland Guidelines for Community Engagement issued by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (2016) (or any subsequent replacement Code of Practice).

6.         Details of how the Community Benefit Fund detailed in the Terms and Conditions of the DoCCAE RESS Auction rules will be met. Details of how to integrate the Community Benefit Fund (to be drafted following consultation with www.3cea.ie )

Consultation should be meaningful, beginning sufficiently in advance of a submission for planning permission to give the local community an opportunity to comment upon and to have an input into the planning and design of the scheme. Community group selection should accord with the Ministerial guidelines. To enable the general public to engage with developers, evidence of formal procedures for dealing with queries and complaints must be included in a planning request.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.3 Impact on the landscape:

Both quantitative and qualitative factors are used to estimate the potential for impact of Wind Energy developments on the landscape. In accordance with the draft Guidelines on Wind Energy, these are comprised in four parts, being:

· Landscape sensitivity (ranging from very low sensitivity to very high sensitivity

· Visual presence of the wind energy development (ranging from minimal presence to highly dominant) · Aesthetic impact of the wind energy development on its landscape context (ranging from major positive impact to major adverse impact)

· Significance of the impact (ranging from insignificant to major)

The Planning Authority will use these four elements of landscape impact assessment in considering the potential for impact of proposed Wind Energy Development on the landscape.

Landscape Character Types are distinct types of landscape that are relatively homogenous in character and are generic in nature in that they may occur in different localities throughout the county, but share similar combinations of geology, topography, land cover and historical land use, for example, Upland Areas.  The Kilkenny Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) (see Chapter 8) divides the county into four landscape character types (LCTs); Upland Areas, Lowland Areas, River Valleys, and Transitional Areas.

The Guidance notes however that a wind energy development may be located in one landscape character type, but visible from another. In such instances the entire visual unit should be taken into consideration. 

All applications shall be accompanied by a Landscape Impact Assessment Report, as set out in Appendix 3 of the draft Wind Energy Development Guidelines including;

  • Landscape and visual impact assessment, including the size, scale and layout and the degree to which the wind energy project is visible over certain areas and in certain views;
  • Visual impact of ancillary development, such as grid connection and access roads;

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.4 Noise Impact Assessment and Noise Limit:

The draft Guidelines indicate that noise is unlikely to be a significant problem where the distance from the nearest turbine to any noise sensitive property is more than 500 metres. Notwithstanding that there will be requirement for noise modelling as part of any wind energy development. Noise modelling carried out by the applicant in advance of and submitted with the planning application must test and demonstrate compliance with the required noise limits specified in the draft Ministerial guidance. The noise assessment shall include noise characteristics associated with both the wind turbines and any associated infrastructure such as transformers, sub-stations or any other ancillary equipment. Where any proposed distance between a wind farm and neighbouring offices or buildings is less, the Council will look for additional noise and shadow flicker mitigation.

A Relative Rated Noise Limit (RRNL) in the range of 35 – 43 dB(A) shall apply at noise sensitive locations, while not exceeding the background noise level by more than 5dB(A) with an upper limit of 43 dB(A).  For instance, at noise sensitive locations where existing background noise levels are measured at less than 30 dB, a maximum 35 dB(A) noise limit will be strictly imposed at lower wind speeds. 

 

11.5.3.5 Shadow Flicker:

Where the turning blades of wind turbine cause intermittent shadows at sensitive nearby receptors, this is called shadow flicker. Shadow flicker generally can become an issue at properties 130 degrees either side of North relative to the wind turbines.  A Shadow Flicker Study detailing the outcome of computational modelling for the potential for shadow flicker from the development should accompany all planning applications for wind energy development and suitable mitigation will be required.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.6 Natural Heritage

Any impacts on birds or rare flora, mammals, amphibians and fish need to be assessed.  For the purposes of this Development Plan, a registered thoroughbred stud farm is considered to be a noise and flicker sensitive property as referred to in the Wind Energy Guidelines.  In particular, the provisions of the Wind Energy Guidelines in relation to noise and flicker will apply to registered thoroughbred stud farms.  

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.7 Access to grid

Details of consultations with the electricity transmission operators regarding the nature and location of a proposed grid connection should be submitted as part of the pre-planning consultation.

 

​​​​​​​11.5.3.8 Proximity to Roads and Railways

At a minimum, turbines shall be set back a distance equalling the blade tip height of the turbine plus 10% from National and Regional roads and railways.  Set-back from other roads will be site specific and determined at application stage.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.9 Proximity to power lines

The minimum clearance for all turbines and overhead transmission lines must be falling distance (measured from the edge of the foundation) plus an additional flashover distance for the relevant voltage.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.10 Interference with communication systems

Any wind farm applicant should contact individual broadcasters to inform them of the proposals.  A list of the licensed operators is available on www.comreg.ie.  Mobile phone operators should also be informed.  Contact should also be made with the Irish Aviation Authority.  The outcome of such consultations shall accompany planning applications. 

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​11.5.3.11 Appropriate Setback Distance to apply

As regards individual residential properties, it is required that applications for wind energy development should demonstrate a setback distance for visual amenity purposes of 4 times the tip height should apply between a wind turbine and the nearest point of the curtilage of any residential property in the vicinity of the proposed development, subject to a mandatory minimum setback of 500 metres. Discretion applies to planning authorities when agreeing separation distances for small scale wind energy developments such as auto producers or where the owner(s) and occupier(s) of the relevant property or properties are agreeable, provided minimum noise requirements are met.

 

[1] Ibid

[2] Draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines December 2019 Prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

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11.5.3 Development Management Guidance While we welcome and concur with the content and many of the policies and objectives outlined in Chapter 11, which support renewables projects in County...