Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is considering significant new restrictions on the development of wind turbines close to residential property.

It is understood he has tabled a series of changes to the planning guidelines which would see a dramatic increase beyond the current set-back of 500 meters between wind turbines and private homes.

Sources close to the process said Mr Kelly favoured pushing the set-back closer to the 700m mark, RTÉ’s This Week has learned.

In addition to this, Mr Kelly has also drawn up a "height to distance matrix" in which the higher a proposed turbine will be the greater the distance it must be built from a residential dwelling.

Wind industry sources said this was particularly noteworthy as there was a growing trend to develop taller turbines in areas of typically lower-speed wind.

The new proposals are contained in new planning guidelines which Minister Kelly has tabled in discussions between officials at his own department and the Department of Communications and Energy and Natural Resources. 

While planning falls under Mr Kelly's remit, the Minister for Communications and Energy has responsibility to ensure Ireland meets its binding 2020 renewable energy targets, of which onshore wind power is seen as a key element.

Officials from both departments were keen to stress that no final decision was made, although well-placed sources said Minister Kelly strongly favoured these measures and he was keen to publish the new rules as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said that the review was a "very technical area".

He said that the engagement between the two departments has, therefore, been in train for a number of months.

"We expect to reach an outcome, which allows both Departments to deliver their policies and meet their responsibilities, shortly," the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Mr Kelly declined to be drawn on the specifics of the environment minister's plans, but said it was expected that these would be finalised soon.

Labour TD for Longford Westmeath Willie Penrose, who has been a vocal critic of any significantly expanded wind farm development, said he hoped and anticipated that Mr Kelly would increase the minimum set-back and make some allowance for a graded height to distance ratio in the new guidelines also.