Planning applications for wind farms should be put on hold until review of guidelines is complete- Deering

14th April, 2014
Fine Gael Carlow TD, Pat Deering, has called for the freezing of all planning applications for wind farms, until the review by Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan TD, of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines is complete. Deputy Deering was contributing to a Dáil debate on the matter this week.
“The issue of wind turbines has become a hot topic in county Carlow in recent times because of an on-going planning application for 21 turbines in the Old Leighlin area. The company concerned is attempting to start work prior to the completion of the review of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, because the current guidelines allow it to proceed without consulting extensively with affected communities.
“Old Leighlin is a small and tight knit community which is being split over this issue, something that could have been avoided if the company were forced to wait until the review is complete and the new guidelines are in place. The new regulations should treat projects in a consist manner, replacing the current process, which can be very unfair. It is essential that communities are brought along with projects if we are to reach our targets and harness the great natural resource of wind energy.
“I am particularly disappointed that certain parties are using this issue for political gain in advance of the Local and European Elections. It is cynical and unnecessary because the issue affects every party and none. We should all engage and cooperate with one another on this issue in a fair and honest manner.
“I commend Minister O’Sullivan’s review of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, and I ask that all proposed planning applications are put on hold until the new guidelines are in place. It is really important that the new guidelines are implemented at the earliest opportunity.
“The consultation process has been reasonably good and the 7,500 submissions that have already been received give an indication of the extent of the public’s concerns. A Strategic Environmental Assessment scoping report is now being prepared and that there will be a report on public consultation and a cost benefit analysis in the coming phases of the project. I welcome that the Minister of State has expressed her willingness to take on board all the views that are expressed so that we can have a fair and equitable process.”