11.5.2 Wind Energy Development Strategy

opendate_range22 Dec, 2020, 9:00am - 12 Mar, 2021, 5:00pm
11.5.2 Wind Energy Development Strategy

A wind energy strategy has been developed for this plan building on the strategies from previous development plans and having regard to Government policy generally and the Draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines December 2019[1]. With wind turbine technology continuously improving, leading to quieter and larger turbines, it is now considered that wind speed should not be the primary determinant of suitability for wind energy generation. On review, the focus is shifting away from wind speed, feasibility of which is largely left to the industry, towards the potential for wind generation to impact humans, the landscape and heritage.  This potentially will leave larger areas designated as “open for consideration”, allowing communities to become involved in the process of planning the best outcomes in wind energy development within their areas. The new process of community consultation with the aim of drafting and including a Community Report with the planning application is a significant development in this regard.

In accordance with draft Wind Energy Development Guidelines requirements, the Planning Authority undertook a 4-step process for identifying suitable locations for wind energy generation. The aim of the exercise was to identify the key areas within the planning authority’s functional area where there is significant wind energy potential and where, subject to criteria such as design and landscape planning, natural heritage, environmental and amenity considerations, wind energy development will be

  1. acceptable in principle;
  2. open to consideration for wind energy development (where relevant)
  3. not normally permissible;

The four steps are set out below;

  1. Assess wind area potential using SEAI’s Wind Atlas for Ireland.
  2. Utilise a landscape character assessment and the potential sensitivity of the landscape for wind energy developments
  3. Do a multi criteria or sieve analysis by overlaying the wind energy mapping and landscape sensitivity
  4. Integrate the information with derived from the previous steps with information regarding accessibility to electricity transmission and distribution grids.

The Council’s Wind Energy Strategy is attached as Appendix K.  

Accordingly, the county has been divided into three policy areas for the development of wind farms, based on an assessment of viability against other considerations; “Acceptable in principle”, “Open for Consideration” and “Not normally permissible”.  A matrix is set out below outlining which of the various category scales will be considered in each Wind Strategy area.  Figure 11.4 shows a map of County Kilkenny with areas designated in accordance with their suitability for wind energy development.

Wind Energy Policy Areas:

Wind energy developments can be divided into five categories depending on their scale, as follows:

  1. Individual wind turbines
  2. Auto producer
  3. Community Schemes (Compliant with the RED II Directive definition of community)
  4. Small scale wind developments (5 or less turbines and output less than 5MW)
  5. Large scale wind developments

The Plan provides policy areas for a wide range of wind energy developments. The plan considers the potential for the landscape to absorb a variety of projects, ranging from large scale wind farm projects to relatively small-scale wind energy developments within urban and industrial areas, and for small community-based proposals outside the key areas that are identified as being appropriate for wind energy development. Community ownership of wind energy projects enables local communities to benefit directly from local wind energy resources being developed in their local areas, ensuring long-term income for rural communities and community benefit funds being mandatory for projects built post 2021 (Contact www.3cea.ie for further information).

Table 11.3: Wind Energy Strategy Areas – policy approach

Strategy area

Acceptable in Principle

Open for consideration

Not normally permissible

Project category

Individual turbine

ü

ü

ü

Auto producer

ü

ü

ü

Small scale wind farm/Community led initiative

ü

ü

X

Large scale wind farm

ü

X

X

Detail on the project categories and policies for their development are set out below.

(a) Individual Wind Turbines

It is recognised that landowners may wish to harness wind energy for private use.  Planning applications for individual wind turbines (subject to a limit of 1 per holding) shall be considered throughout the county. 

(b) Auto producer

An “Auto producer” is where an industry/large energy user uses a wind turbine to feed its own energy consumption.

These will be considered throughout the county subject to the following:

  • The turbine proposed is for a significant energy user,
  • The location of the turbine is within the curtilage of the facility or immediately adjacent.
  • The site already contains significant development to reduce the visual impact of the turbine(s).

(c)           Community Schemes

Local ownership and part-ownership of a generation project can extend the benefits of renewable energy to households. These benefits of community ownership can vary from providing cheaper energy to the creation of long-term revenue stream and even potentially creating employment for members of the local community.

Small scale wind development projects led by the community will be considered in the policy areas identified as being ‘Acceptable in principle’ and ‘Open for Consideration’ in the Wind Energy Strategy Map (Figure 11.4). Compliant with the EU RED II Definition 2018/2001/EU ) Article 2 (16)[2]

(d)          Small-Scale Wind Energy Developments

In the policy areas identified as being ‘Acceptable in principle’ and ‘Open for Consideration’ in the Wind Energy Strategy Map (Figure 11.4), the following proposals will be considered:

  • Comprising no more than 5 turbines,
  • Where the total capacity is not greater than 5 Megawatts,
  • Turbine heights do not exceed 65m to hub height

(d) Large-Scale Wind Energy Developments (>5MW)

Large-scale wind energy developments will, in usual circumstances, only be considered in ‘

Acceptable in principle’ areas.  The rationale behind this policy is to minimise the visual impacts of such large-scale developments, in addition to effects on the environment of County Kilkenny as a whole, as well as to facilitate appropriate grid connections.  These will be assessed in accordance with the Wind Energy Development Guidelines.[3] 

 

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

[2] renewable energy community’ means a legal entity:

(a) which, in accordance with the applicable national law, is based on open and voluntary participation, is autonomous, and is effectively controlled by shareholders or members that are located in the proximity of the renewable energy projects that are owned and developed by that legal entity;

(b) the shareholders or members of which are natural persons, SMEs or local authorities, including municipalities;

(c) the primary purpose of which is to provide environmental, economic or social community benefits for its shareholders or members or for the local areas where it operates, rather than financial profits.

[3] Department of Housing Planning and Local Government, draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines for Planning Authorities, 2019

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