The government is facing a backlash in the country over a plan to relax rules on wind turbines

A comprehensive review of the rules governing wind turbine construction is likely to lead to looser regulations and trigger a backlash in rural communities.

The revision of existing guidelines for controversial onshore turbines will take into account the government’s new climate protection targets.

Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan and Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien will submit a memo to Cabinet seeking approval for the review.

They want to launch a cross-departmental review of draft policies that were announced four years ago but never passed.

The existing rules for the construction of wind turbines date back to 2006 and have never been officially updated, despite attempts by various ministers to introduce new rules that take account of community concerns.

Ireland is currently the third most difficult country to develop wind energy due to problems with planning bureaucracy, according to research by the European Climate Foundation.

However, a further review of the guidelines, which takes into account the government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 51 per cent by 2030, will spark a backlash in rural communities as it is likely to lead to looser building codes.

The government is also committed to adhering to a recent EU deal to speed up construction of onshore turbines amid the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The memo submitted to the cabinet reads: “Given the political and energy security developments at national and EU level since the publication of the draft wind energy development guidelines in 2019, it is necessary to review the existing draft guidelines for consistency with the new and itself to review the emerging political context.

“With this in mind, and taking into account the National Energy Security Framework, as well as to further support the requirements of the 2023 Climate Action Plan, there may be a need to make targeted changes to the previously preferred draft approach to reviewing the guidance,” it added.

Environment Department officials will now work with Housing Department officials to change the guidelines.

They will “work particularly on noise parameters and assessment methods and develop new parameters where necessary and practicable to support national policy efforts to increase renewable energy production while providing adequate safeguards against noise pollution.”

The purpose of the review is to ensure that the turbine regulations are “user-friendly” and take account of legislative changes in planning and environmental legislation.

A draft guideline for the construction of wind turbines was published in 2019 and required a set-back of at least 500m for a structure erected near residential property.

It also set limits for noise emissions from turbines and shadow flicker from the turbine’s large rotating blades.

The noise limits in the latest guidelines were stricter and more focused on reducing impact on communities than those published in 2006.

Lobby group Wind Energy Ireland has criticized the noise limits and warned that if they were introduced, it would take the government longer to meet its climate targets. In 2020, reducing noise would cost consumers $2.7 billion in additional costs. The government is facing a backlash in the country over a plan to relax rules on wind turbines

Fry Electronics Team

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