The new wind energy proposals drafted by ministers Simon Coveney and Denis Naughten have been deemed "totally unacceptable” by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
Key proposals to address aspects of the controversial 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines that were announced on Tuesday were heavily criticised by the Roscommon TD, who believes the mandatory setback area is insufficient.
“Currently, the setback area for wind turbines is totally unacceptable. We were looking at a setback area of 10:1. Where a wind turbine is 100m high, the setback area would be 1000m. From my understanding of the proposal, the reality is they may be 4:1,” Fitzmaurice told the Irish Farmers Journal.
The proposed legislation includes noise limits and monitoring of noise in line with WTO standards, as well as the elimination of shadow flicker.
More significantly, the drafted proposals also retain the mandatory minimum setback distance of 500m for wind turbine construction near residential homes, something Fitzmaurice does not think will sit well with local communities.
“People won’t stand for what they are proposing and won’t accept the 500m setback area. I would expect people to lodge a submission against them,” He continued.
The new proposals also include the an obligation from wind farm developers to engage with the local community for community benefit.
Minister Coveney said the proposals aim to balance delivering on Ireland's EU renewable energy targets while satisfying the concerns of local communities.
“I think it is important that we are in a position to give greater clarity to stakeholders, local authorities, the energy sector and the wider community as to the broad direction that the review is taking, which will be subject to the SEA process and involve public consultation before the guidelines are ultimately finalised,” Coveney said.
The proposals are up for public consultation and are expected to be passed for the first quarter of 2018.