Kerry County Council have recently proposed an 8th Variation to the 2009-2015 County Development Plan which can be accessed here. This variation mainly takes the form of a Renewable Energy Strategy document and maps and is stated to facilitate and manage the development of renewable energy development in a manner which is accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the county.
The document deals with several aspects of Renewable Energy in the county and the proposed renewable energy strategy of the Planning Policy Unit for the future. Section 5 on Wind Energy forms a substantial part of the document and has significant proposals that will affect future developments in the county. In particular, the draft plan proposes exclusion of wind development from the county’s natural heritage designations.
This will include the Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle Special Protection Area (SPA). According to the Renewable Energy Strategy document, this SPA has 225 permitted turbines in it, of the 375 turbines permitted in the county between 1997-2011 (no information was available on actual constructed turbines). Referencing a Habitats Assessment and other information, the document states that:
“Having considered these assessments, the objectives of these conservation areas, the extent of existing and permitted development and the Planning Authority’s obligation to ensure compliance with the Birds and Habitats directives these areas are considered to have no further capacity for wind development.“
In contrast with this, the SPA which covers over 56,000 hectares, has a maximum height of 451m and a mean height of 200m, which provides some of the best wind resources in Ireland along with having relatively low amounts of dwellings and noise sensitive locations. Exclusion of this entire SPA area in Kerry for future wind energy development will put question marks over the economic feasability of “suitable” development areas proposed in county Kerry.
Observations and submissions must be submitted before 5.00 p.m. Thursday 28th June 2012.