Offaly County Council urges caution over wind turbines

Monday 23 September 2013 17.46
Offaly County Council urges a 'precautionary approach' over the development of large-scale wind turbines
Offaly County Council urges a 'precautionary approach' over the development of large-scale wind turbines

Offaly County Council has said a "precautionary approach" should be taken over the development of large-scale wind turbines close to homes in the midlands.

The council's planning office said the impact of large-scale turbines on noise sensitive locations were "relatively untested".

The comments are contained in a submission that the council has made to an ongoing review of wind energy guidelines being conducted by the Department of the Environment.

Offaly is one of a handful of midland counties selected as a possible location for a major wind energy export project to supply electricity to the UK national grid.

The submission stated: "Turbines likely to be proposed in the midlands are not of the scale normally proposed onshore in Ireland and as noise impact is not a consideration for offshore tribunes, noise modelling and prediction for the turbines is relatively untested.

"Consequently a precautionary approach should be taken to new turbines of this scale in proximity to noise sensitive locations."

The council has also asked the department to clarify whether a higher threshold of noise should be allowed in the case of locals who are in favour of a wind turbine being built near them.

Some farmers in the midlands stand to earn significant revenue from renting their land to one of two wind companies planning on supplying the UK grid.

The council's planning office has also called on the department to provide guidance on the variance in frequency of shadow flicker between large and small turbines.

The council noted that there were "significant proposals for large-scale wind turbines in the midlands, including county Offaly, in addition to planning applications for large-scale wind turbines which have already been received, with some already permitted in the county.

"The council recommends that any updated guidance must address in detail the assessment of proposals for turbines of this scale."

The submission by Offaly County Council was one of a sample made by State bodies and other agencies, which were released by the department to RTÉ.

However, given the volume of submissions and the varying degrees of opposition and support for wind turbines, it was unlikely that these will be reflective of all the submissions made.

Among those submissions, Bord na Móna and Coillte - both of whom are significant players in the wind energy sector in Ireland - have lobbied the department to exclude any mandatory minimum distance between wind turbines and residential properties.