A policy on wind energy export projects is under way to be used as a guide for the planning authority An Bord Pleanála. This is according to Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte TD this week.

The framework ,which will be based on a strategic environmental assessment, will be prepared over the coming 12 months and will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders including local authorities, potential project developers and local communities to be consulted and have an input into the national policy for wind export.

“As I have previously said, a clear national planning policy context  for Renewable Energy Export is essential for An Bord Pleanála in assessing and determining individual strategic projects. The framework we will develop will provide an opportunity to integrate relevant EU Directive requirements  –  Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive –  in the context of developing a new national framework,” said Minister Rabbitte.

The Minister added any renewable energy export strategy would also depend on the conclusion of an intergovernmental agreement that would ensure such exports were in the interests of  both Ireland and Britain.

“By the end of this year we hope to make an agreement with the British side.  By this time next year we will be finalising a planning framework that will give confidence and certainty to all stakeholders. In the autumn of 2014, therefore, project promoters will be able to submit proposals to the planning authority in the knowledge that there is a clear framework for decisions”.

A separate exercise undertaking a technical update of  Ireland’s  wind energy development guidelines of 2006 which is focused on the issues of noise and shadow flicker is also in train.  That exercise is being conducted jointly by the Department of Environment and the Department of Energy.  Those guidelines apply to all wind farm planning  applications.