New guidelines for the construction of wind farm are expected to be published by the end of 2013.

Minister Pat Rabbitte, speaking at the Oireachtas, was answering questions concerning the construction of wind farms and their impact on rural life.

“The Wind Energy Planning Guidelines were developed by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in 2006 to offer advice to planning authorities with regard to their preparation of Development Plans and their consideration of applications for planning permission from wind farm developers,” said Rabbitte.

“However, since 2006 there have been a number of new developments: wind turbine technologies have evolved; experience has been gained from applying the current guidelines; new research has been undertaken internationally on wind turbine noise; and the EU has set legally binding targets for renewable energy for Member States by 2020. Ireland must achieve 16% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. In order to achieve this, Ireland is committed to ensuring that 40% of electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2020.

“In light of the above, and in order to ensure that Ireland continues to meet its renewable energy targets, while at the same time ensuring that wind energy does not have negative impacts on local communities, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government – in conjunction with my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland – is undertaking a targeted review of certain aspects of the existing Wind Energy Planning Guidelines.

“This review will examine the manner in which the Guidelines address key issues such as noise (including separation distance) and shadow flicker. It is expected that revised guidelines will be published for consultation later this year, with a view to the finalisation of the new guidelines in the first half of 2014.”