Have Your Say! Revision of Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006


Minister Denis Naughten

That excellent web site Concerned About Wind Turbines – Donegal  (CAWT) has put important and previously cunningly concealed information into the public domain by an AIE request to our old friends, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Despite the Department playing hide-the-parcel, the Commissioner for Environmental Information( CEI) gave them a slap on the head and told them to reveal their dark secrets.


The Commissioner made it clear that the information should have been made available to the public before any decision was made by the Department. The Commissioner also pointed out that this would enable the public to make submissions before any decisions were made.

It is a very sorry state of affairs when a Commissioner has to tell the government how democracy works. Hang your head, Minister Naughten, and off to the Naughty Corner you go.


The documents that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment were trying to hide consist of a report on Wind Turbine Noise Modelling commissioned from the RPG Group by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (on behalf of the Department) dated 11 May 2015 and a series of subsequent data analyses against varied criteria up to 13 July 2015.


Startling New Information

When one considers that this was supposed to be a “tame report” filed under ‘His Master’s Voice’, it actually makes for very interesting reading. The report shows that the current clearance distances being discussed by the Department are woefully inadequate given the typical wind turbine size in any future development. Current wind turbines are likely to have (at least) a power rating of 3.5MW and a tip height of 150 to 175m (up to 200m in low-wind areas).  This is five (5) times larger than the 0.66MW wind turbines typically installed in 2006 when the current Guidelines were issued.

Table 3.2 of the report shows that an estimated setback distance of 1209m (i.e. 1.2 km) would be the absolute minimum distance necessary to meet the 40dB absolute noise limit proposed in the draft revision of the Wind Guidelines. Many argue that this 40dB limit is still not enough to ensure there is no distress caused to people in their homes, which means we should really be looking at 1.5 km; which is triple the current 500 metres!

The AIE has completely exposed the severely flawed planning policies being pursued by the current Government, and confirms what we all knew already – the current Guidelines offer absolutely no protection to rural residents.  The Government’s current action of sticking their heads in the sand whilst countless families are driven from their homes cannot be allowed to continue.

As pointed out on numerous occasions in previous blogs (and in our arguments to the UN), Ireland does not have the legacy of planned rural settlements like our European cousins, where a consolidated settlement pattern has been implemented for decades, even centuries. Their farms are huge and farm labour lives in consolidated hamlets and villages.  Irish farms have historically been small, and sons and daughters frequently build on parcels of land from the family farm, or farmers sell off plots to people who prefer to live in the quiet of the countryside. This means there are little farms and houses dotted haphazardly all over the place, and the spaces between people’s homes are not big enough to accommodate big industrial wind farms, particularly when they should be at least 1500 metres from the nearest house.

If we look at the draft Guidelines currently being circulated, “Key Objective 5.6.1” says it

“seeks to achieve a balance between the protection of residential amenity of neighbouring communities in the vicinity of wind energy developments, and facilitating the meeting of national renewable energy targets”.

The reality is the opposite of this claim – as turbines get more powerful, so the harm that they cause to people will also increase. Ireland was never really big enough for wind farms in 2006, but now it is an impossible dream without hurting a lot of people.

Planning is all about balancing competing interests.  The key tool used for this is Zoning Policy, whereby any industrial machinery or plants are kept well away from residential areas by appropriate zoning.  Industrial activities are directed to areas zoned for industrial use and homes are built in areas zoned for residential use.  This is a sensible approach that has stood the test of time. It is also not rocket science, just common sense.

However, when the issue of wind farms is put on the table, the rule book is thrown out of the window. How can this be lawful? It is illegal and unfair on so many levels.

What can we do about this?

The Department received submissions from 7,497 individuals and organisations in response to the public consultation on the proposed draft revisions to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in relation to noise, setbacks and shadow flicker.

The Department’s web site currently states that following consideration of the submissions,  the revisions to the Guidelines will be finalised and issued to planning authorities under Section 28 of the Planning and Development  Act 2000 (as amended) during Quarter 3 2014.


In other words, they are trying to tell us that the consultation is over. But how can there be a proper consultation without proper information?  The AIE Commissioner is also clearly of the view that further consultation should be allowed, given the discovery of this information that has been hidden from us.

We now know that for 18 months the Government has been hiding this information which clearly shows that the current setback of 500 metres is useless in protecting rural residents. Remembering that this is a “friendly” commissioned report, and that wind turbines are getting bigger and more powerful all the time, we should really be looking at a minimum setback distances of 1500 metres. Remembering that it takes the government over a decade to replace guidelines, perhaps we should plan for the future (a foreign concept to the Minister, it would seem) and ask for a setback distance of 2000 metres?

What must happen now is that each and every one of us to need make submissions to both Ministers, and to each of our constituency TDs and to each of our local County Councillors to let them know in no uncertain terms that we demand immediate action on bringing in proper protection against wind farms by having an effective setback distance of at least 1500 metres, preferably 2000 metres.

There were 7497 submissions back in 2013 – we can do better than that now!

 A template letter in Word format is attached here:   letter-template-wind-guidelines-2017         Please edit to taste and send to the Ministers and all your public representatives.  CAWT Donegal has opened the door – let’s use the opportunity!


The Minister

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

29 – 31 Adelaide Road


D02 X285

The Minister

Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Custom House

Dublin 1

D01 W6X0

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
This entry was posted in An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, BSB Community Energy Ltd, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Framore Limited, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, Irish Farmers Association; IFA; wind farm contracts, Kilvinane Wind Farm Ltd; substituted consent, Ministerial Responsibility; Liability; Negligence; cardiovascular, Pat Swords, Peremptory law; Directory Law; Planning and Devlopment Act of 2000, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Treaty, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Grid 25; North-South Interconnector, The Spokes of the Wheel; wind farms; Ireland; Windfall, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans, Wind Turbines: Esen Fatma Kabadayi Whiting and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Have Your Say! Revision of Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006

  1. fclauson says:


    An analogy:
    A school boy is asked to go to the well and bring back a quart of water. He is given a pint pot which clearly makes it an impossible task. He will drench himself, his clothes and water damage the floor as he struggles to achieve the impossible. (For our metric brethren a quart=1130ml, a pint=568ml)

    The Irish On-Shore Wind Energy Program is in trouble for the same reasons. There is not enough land to make it a reality. Not without doing untold damage to rural Ireland.

    The outcome of this modelling published by CAWT

    1) 85% of existing wind farms fail to meet the new guideline requirements
    2) The 2020 targets become impossible without making noise nuisance common place across rural Ireland.
    3) The destruction of EPA designated “quiet areas”. (definition can be found http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/land/noiseinquietareassynthesisreport-epa.html )
    Ireland needs to take a long hard look at how it will reach the 2020 renewable target because the current plan is broken.

    The models use two noise levels 40db and 45db – both of these levels would be too high if they are shown to cause a nuisance.

    It should be pointed out that in the recent Cork court case (SHIVNEN & ORS -V- ENERCON WIND FARM SERVES LTD & ANOR 2011/9955 P) the noise levels as detailed in the developer’s compliance report where around 35db to 37db. In spite of this on inspection and when all factors were taken into account the wind farm was still found to be a nuisance with the amount of damages still to be resolved.

    The site http://www.windnoise.info can be used to see the accoustical impact of wind farms.

  2. Pingback: Have Your Say! Revision of Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006 | Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc.

  3. Nigel de Haas says:

    The level of contempt in which both this and the previous administration holds its rural electorate beggars belief. The studies to which CEI cases CEI/15/0027 (Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government) and CEI/15/0032 (Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) apply clearly demonstrate that these departments were well aware by July 2015 that a setback of >1200m is required in order to achieve the 40dB absolute limit proposed in the 2013 draft revision to WEDG06.

    That was a full six months before the general election. Nearly a year has elapsed since the general election. The Government continues to sit on its hands as dozens of inappropriately sited wind farms are granted planning permission for each year that passes. Is the Government culpable?
    Culpable, adjective : deserving blame or censure; blameworthy.

    It would certainly seem so. The Government is avoiding taking action to protect the citizens it is elected to care for. We have had endless enquiries over the past decades arising from Government failure to exercise due care of the population; Hepatitis C, army deafness and many more. Will the next few years bring a wind turbine noise enquiry to redress the losses incurred by rural dwellers?

    Surely the sensible thing is to enact adequate protection now and avoid all the unnecessary grief that is being stored up by a failure of Government Ministers to govern?

    NB: Government Minister salary including allowances – €13128 per month.

  4. Pat Swords says:

    Another issue to consider is as JP Morgan famously said: “A man has two reasons, the good reason and the real reason”. Thought about that today when I saw the latest spin from Eirgrid, i.e. spending €1 billion of our money, which was of course for our wonderful benefit.


    One has to laugh at the total ignorance of the press, do they every actually think about the crap they write, although if we had to pay to read it like in the past, nobody really would anymore.

    Anyhow: This €1 billion interconnector to France is to power 450,000 homes and increase security of supply, which is a bit daft, as we already have a system, which does that and has been ultra reliable for decades, so why do we need to spend another €1 billion on another one to do the same thing?

    Yes France has a lot of cost competitive nuclear, but when the cold weather hits France, their electricity consumption soars, as they have a lot of domestic electric heating. If you don’t believe me watch the dial on the top left when the cold weather comes in, they are really struggling to match demand: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

    When the cold weather hits France it often hits here too. So if we bring in French nuclear off peak and at a competitive prices, this is a short term gain, but means that some of our existing generation capacity will simply in time shut up shop. So what happens then when it gets real cold? Of course the French will suffer blackouts, as the lovely new interconnector keeps sending French electricity to Ireland. After all there is plenty of precedent of such issues and how we can rely on the EU’s trading ‘rules’ when the ‘chips are down’:


    Maybe people will smell the coffee when the power eventually comes back on and they can brew it?

    So let’s get down to the real reason, which one will never get from the so called professionally paid news media. One has to ferret it out oneself, such as using the Aarhus information rights utilised effectively in the article above. However, isn’t it amazing how our so called ‘public servants’ (don’t make me laugh), try every trick in the book to obstruct citizens seeking information, even to the point of breaking the laws, which apply to them?

    With regard to this wonderful interconnector, it is part of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest, which has been part of a long drawn out Communication at UNECE, which is in its final phase with the draft findings and recommendations likely to be out this spring. The EU fought tooth and nail, right to the head civil servant in the EU Catherine Day (wouldn’t you know it Irish!), that nobody would have access to information relating to the justification for these projects. However, go to Annex 6 of the Communication and Questionnaire for E 153 – Grid Link (page 83/119 of the pdf)


    “This investment is planned primarily to facilitate the integration of 1,283 MW of wind generation in the south of the country. This is approximately equivalent to 0,054 GW/1000 km2 based on GW of additional wind installed within county boundaries. Because of the favourable wind conditions on the island of Ireland and offshore there is interest (evidenced by applications for grid connections) in developing renewable generation capacity well in excess of what is required for native demands. The connection of such capacity can only be facilitated if further interconnection is installed to provide access for this generation to the British and continental European markets, in addition it win facilitate future interconnection to Great Britain or France.”

    One of the things that is strikingly clear, is that the Irish grid system can’t take more wind without a major build-out, which includes more interconnectors. So developers may well get their planning for wind turbines, but the realty of project completion and operation hinges on other developments in grid infrastructure, including those interconnectors. The East West interconnector, linking Malhide to the Welsh grid, cost Irish consumers over €600 million and the UK consumers not a cent. It was raised, but not addressed in the first Communication I brought in 2010 to UNECE.

    For instance, the below from what is a ‘Green tinged (and funded) German think Tank’:

    Social cost benefit analysis of interconnector investment: A critical appraisal
    Bremen Energy Working Paper No. 02, July 2010 (published in Energy Policy, 39(6), 2011, pp. 3096-3105.) Michiel de Nooij

    “Some, like the European commission, claim that Europe needs more transmission capacity and interconnectors. This paper studies interconnector investment decisions from the perspective of a social cost benefit analysis (maximising total welfare in a country). For two European decisions to build an interconnector (NorNed and the East West Interconnector) the analysis underlying the decisions is discussed in detail, and will be compared with lessons from theory and decisions made in other jurisdictions (Nordel, California and Australia). The key findings are that (i) it is unclear how much demand for transmission capacity and interconnectors there actually is, and thus how large the benefits of investing will be. (ii) Both studies analyzed are not correct. Main criticism includes that they do not take the reaction of producers to new interconnection capacity into account; ignore part of the potential benefits of more competition; and make a strange assumption with respect to discounting. (iii) Decisions in Europe are taken very differently, leading to situations in which approval of an investment might depend on who has to approve. (iv) Therefore, it is unlikely that interconnector and transmission investment decisions in Europe currently are maximizing social welfare. Some lessons for future cost benefit analysis are drawn.”

    In other words, the figures were a fiddle and there was no rational economic justification for it, it all came down to ‘who has to approve’!

    This same point came up with the Irish Academy of Engineering’s report in 2009:


    “1.2.3 East­West Interconnection (EWIC)
    In July 2006, the Irish Government decided to construct an interconnector from Ireland to Great
    Britain. It would appear that this decision was taken without the benefit of a robust techno‐
    economic study or cost benefit analysis.  

    In addition it is not clear that the main benefit, the “capacity savings”, amounting to some €40m
    annually out of a total annual benefit of €66m, would be attainable under current market rules, as
    the benefit would appear to imply 100% usage of the interconnector. The Academy understands for example that during 2008 the usage factor on the Moyle interconnector was approximately 14%. This would appear to indicate a much lower likely benefit from EWIC.”

    Looks like Eirgrid are happy to fiddle the books at will on the basis that the punters and decision makes (a shower of punters with our money) only read the crap in the Irish Independent, etc., which is a reproduction of what they feed the lazy journos in the first place.

    God help us from all this stupidity, deceit and the appalling mess it leaves behind, as if we didn’t have A&Es and hospitals crying out for investment, etc.

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb: If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Quite so, Pat. It is one thing when the lunatics take over the asylum, but it’s a bit much when they treat us like lunatics as well.

  5. Pingback: Have Your Say! Revision of Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006 | ajmarciniak

  6. Pingback: Kicking Cans? | The Law is my Oyster

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