Noise Limit Rules for Wind Farms
The Irish public has now been asked to provide feedback on the wind energy development guidelines recently published by the Government. Earlier this month, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment published the revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines (WEDG) and invited public consultation. The current review is addressing several aspects of the guidelines including sound and noise. The Department hopes that, with the help of the public, they will be able to understand the true impact of the turbines and offer solutions to those who are opposed to wind farm developments in their area.
Wind farm complaints are nothing new. Most recently, RTE reported that a proposal by Coillte to erect ten wind turbines on Corry Mountain in Co. Leitrim is being met with robust opposition by local people, who say it will severely negatively impact them and the area in which they live. Coillte confirmed that the proposal for Croagh wind farms includes ten turbines, each 168 metres high. The Government has set an ambitious target to move to 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030, with wind energy expected to play a big part and local support is required (or certainly preferred). The likely impact of noise is one source of complaints from residents who live nearby. Since 2017, people have been calling for a review to the draft proposals, however, it could be the middle of 2020 before we get any clarity around this.
The revised draft guidelines provide that all planning applications for wind energy development will be required to include an acoustic report prepared by a qualified and competent person. It also states where appropriate this can be incorporated as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. The guidelines also provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from transportation, leisure and wind turbine sources. Furthermore, the guidelines say, “the number of people exposed (to wind turbine noise) is far lower than for many other sources of noise” (such as road traffic). Regardless of this, wind farms will be subject to increased set-back distances and forced to operate automatic shadow flicker control mechanisms.
Going forward, it is vital that wind energy developers engage in mandatory consultations with communities at an early stage in the process and at the pre-planning stage. Liaising with communities will improve relationships and allow all those involved to voice their concerns. Noise is set to become a greater challenge for wind energy developers when applying for planning permission and noise monitoring is the solution they need. Sonitus Systems provide user-friendly and reliable noise monitoring systems. Founded in 2007 to provide cost-effective noise monitoring instrumentation to regulatory authorities, the company has expanded and evolved allowing us to offer a complete range of noise management services. Our team have extensive expertise spanning engineering, product development, wireless sensor networking, acoustics and environmental noise management and are ideally equipped to develop innovative new solutions for measuring noise emissions.
Get in touch with us here for more information on noise monitoring and for more details on the public consultation - all the details are on the gov.ie website.