A Kerry councillor has said that the proposed mandatory minimum setback distance between new wind turbines and houses should be doubled.

The government has committed to having up to 80% of Ireland’s electricity provided by renewable sources, including wind and solar, by 2030.

A review of the 2006 wind energy development guidelines is currently underway.

Those guidelines did not provide a mandatory minimum setback distance between turbines and residential dwellings, but did include an advised minimum setback distance of 500m.

Draft proposals by government state that turbines should be a distance of four times the blade tip height away from the nearest house, subject to a mandatory minimum setback of 500m.

Setback Distance

However, Kerry County Councillor Fionnán Fitzgerald has said that the minimum setback distance should be doubled to eight times the turbine height.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said that developing renewable energy in Ireland is very important, adding that wind turbines are one of the best methods of generation.

However, he noted that turbines have been a source of controversy in recent years in Co. Kerry because of the distance from houses, noise and shadow flicker.

“I can remember visiting a house before the pandemic where a turbine was quite close to it, even though it was four times the height back. It was dominating the setting of the house.

“You wouldn’t say there is a house there, you would say there’s a turbine with a house quite close to it,” Fitzgerald said.

Wind Turbines

The draft Kerry County Development Plan 2022-2028, which includes a section on renewable energy, is currently out for public consultation until February 23.

To date, a total of 362 wind turbines have been built in Kerry in around 25 wind farms; planning permission has been granted for 12 more turbines.

Currently, Kerry, which has 3% of the national population, produces almost a fifth of the total national wind generation.

Kerry County Council said its policy is to support, in principle and in appropriate locations, the sustainable development of wind energy resources.

A detailed survey of the county by the local authority saw the amount of land designated as suitable for wind farms reduced by over 90%.

Councillor Fitzgerald said there are areas of the county where people are willing to have wind turbine development, but there are also locations where people have grave concerns.

Kerry County Council is to write to the Office of the Planning Regulator and Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment and Communications, Eamon Ryan outlining the councillor’s request.

“I would really genuinely hope that it is looked at. This is not out to block wind turbines, not at all. Have the turbines by all means but have them at a fair distance back from someone’s house,” Fitzgerald said.