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Planning, Regulations and Administration

  1. Do you need planning permission for a wind farm?
  2. Who do I apply to for Planning Permission?
  3. Do I need a licence to generate electricity?
  4. Which organisations/companies/administrative bodies would you have to deal with if you were interested in setting up a wind farm?
  5. What government departments are involved in the Wind industry?
  6. Who are the state bodies involved?
  7. What are the safety requirements for construction? Is certification required?
  8. What are potential insurance costs and who are the insurers?
  9. Are there currently any lands Zoned for Wind Farming?
  10. What do I need to do to start up my own wind generation company?
  11. What happens when a wind farm is taken down / decommissioned?
  12. Do I need a favourable Environmental Impact Statement in order to build my wind farm?

  1. Do you need planning permission for a wind farm?

    Yes, all large scale wind farms will have to go through the planning process. With regard to both domestic and industrial micro generation however, planning exemptions have been published by the Department of the Environment have recently come into effect. These exemptions cover micro generation units with a maximum height of 13 metres for domestic turbines and units with a maximum height of 20 metres for businesses. For more information on micro generation please view our micro generation section
  2. Who do I apply to for Planning Permission?

    Your local county council is the authority to which you need to apply to for planning permission. Your application should include both a site layout map, a site location map, drawings of the planned turbines include their height and rotor diameter, together with evidence of a site notice and notification in the required national and/or local papers.
  3. Do I need a licence to generate electricity?

    Yes, all developers wishing to produce electricity must apply to the CER for a generator licence.  It should also be noted that any wind developer must also get an authorisation to construct from the CER before any construction takes place.

    To obtain the authorisation to construct you must first hold a generator licence. The developer only needs one generator licence but would need separate authorisations to construct for each separate development. The  application forms and the corresponding  explanatory notes may be viewed here.

  4. Which organisations/companies/administrative bodies would you have to deal with if you were interested in setting up a wind farm?

    In order to set up a wind farm you will preliminarily need to deal with the following bodies:

    (i) The CER and ESB Networks or Eirgrid. You will need to deal with the CER in order to get a generator licence and an authorisation to build licence, while you will need a connection agreement from the ESB Networks or Eirgrid depending on size and location. You will need this agreement in order to get connected to the grid. Failure to secure this will jeopardise the entire project as you will be unable to receive sales revenue.


    (ii) Planning Authorities. You will be required to deal with the planning department in your county council in order to secure planning permission. If your connection is contestable, i.e. you are allowed the option of building your grid connection yourself, then you will also need to secure planning permission for the connection as well as securing the necessary way leaves.

    (iii) Turbines Manufacturers. Securing the timely (neither too early nor too late) delivery of wind turbines is a common stumbling black for many developers. A secure contract for delivery is essential in order to minimise the risk involved.

    (iv) Suppliers. If you do not wish to become a supplier yourself, then you will have to negotiate a power purchase agreement with a licensed supplier. They will then sell your power on your behalf. In negotiating with suppliers, generators should make themselves aware of the REFIT scheme

     

  5. What government departments are involved in the Wind industry?

    In the main, there are two government departments involved in the wind industry in Ireland.

    The Department of the Environment is responsible for the planning regulations in Ireland and that includes planning for wind farms. They set out the general rules and regulations governing the planning process while the individual county councils develop the mechanisms through which they implement those rules.

    The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is responsible for the corporate governance of both the Commission for Energy Regulation and the transmission grid operator Eirgrid. They are also responsible for the development of the Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff scheme (REFIT)

  6. Who are the state bodies involved?

    In addition to the role of the various county councils in the planning process, a number of state bodies are involved in the industry.

    The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is responsible for the regulation of the electricity and gas industries in Ireland. It's stated objectives include; the security of constant supply of both electricity and gas, fair and reasonable energy prices for consumers, the protection of the environment and the safe supply of energy.

    The grid operator EirGrid is responsible for the planning and operation of the electricity network. This involves trying to constantly match demand of consumers and the supply from generators 24 hours a day. In term of the Transmission network, Eirgrid are responsible for the planning and the ensuring of the development of the transmission network, while ESB networks are responsible for the carrying out of such developments.

    In terms of the distribution network ESB networks are independently responsible for their connection, maintenance, construction etc.

  7. What are the safety requirements for construction? Is certification required?

    There are no specific health and safety requirements related to wind farms or wind farm development in Ireland, nor is there a wind farm safety certification process.

    However, at all times during development, (e.g. ground works, construction, installation or commissioning process), the site is subject to the provisions of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 which apply to all workplaces. The act is a comprehensive document outlining the procedures for measures such as hazard identification, risk assessment, the risk control process and other safety measures, as well as outlining the duties of employers and employees.

  8. What are potential insurance costs and who are the insurers?

    There are many potential problems which wind developers may encounter while in the process of developing a wind farm so in order to safeguard against potential losses, insurance is essential.

    Industry sources indicate that for the first year of the project development, insurance costs typically work out around €15,000 per MW for the development of the project and the first year of operation with a progressive reduction in cost after year one.

    In year one the type of cover which a company provides may include:
    -Marine Cover
    -Advance Loss of Profits
    -Unloading and Transit of Turbines
    -Build again cover
    -Public Liability

     After installation and commissioning are complete, the type of insurance cover one would expect to have on an annual basis would include:

    -Material Damage
    -Operational Damage
    -Public liability

    It should also be noted that most if not all banks would require a developer to show that they had obtained adequate insurance before confirming a finance agreement. For more information about insurers involved in the wind industry, please consult our Member Services Directory

  9. Are there currently any lands Zoned for Wind Farming?

    While a national planned zoning of wind farm areas is notably absent, individual county councils have or should have their own county development plan. In relation to wind farm citing, the council will have typically identified areas where wind farms would be desirable, open to consideration and no-go areas.
  10. What do I need to do to start up my own wind generation company?

    In order to set up a successful wind generation company you should first make sure that you have a good site, adequate capital against which you can borrow to fund your development and that your area is zoned.

    The IWEA would like to make those who are thinking about setting up a wind farm aware that there could be significant long term delays in getting connections through the current GATE connection process.

    In terms of actual incorporation you should proceed in the normal manner just like any other company i.e. through the Companies Registry Office. Your next step would then be to apply to the CER for a Generator Licence.

  11. What happens when a wind farm is taken down / decommissioned?

    The way that a local authority (in most cases your county council) wishes to have a wind farm decommissioned should be covered by clauses in its planning permission. These clauses typically require all visible traces of the wind farm to be removed. This takes care of the turbines, substations and any other on site structures. Service tracks, if there are any, could be removed, although it may be best to leave them. Obviously each case is different, depending upon the size and geography of the development. Developers will then comply with these clauses.

    The concrete bases could be removed, but it may be better to leave them under the ground, as this causes less disturbance. They could then be covered with peat, stone or other indigenous material, and the site returned as closely as practicable to its original state. The turbine itself will often have a scrap value which will cover the costs of such ground restoration. Wind energy installation is essentially reversible, and compared to the problems associated with decommissioning a nuclear power station, or a coal or gas fired plant, decommissioning a wind farm is straight forward and simple

  12. Do I need a favourable Environmental Impact Statement in order to build my wind farm?

    In the ROI, You do not necessarily need an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in order to build a wind farm.

    However it should be noted that an EIS is mandatory where a wind farm has in excess of 5 turbines OR has a maximum output capacity of greater than 5 MegaWatts (MW)

    Additionally an EIS will have to be carried out on smaller developments where your planning authority, or An Bord Pleanála on appeal, consider that the development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment

    The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government have also issued  their Planning Guidelines for Wind Energy designed as an guide to planning authories in formulating their own conditions for wind energy planning. This is also a useful document for developers in their consideration of the potential of a successful wind farm development.

    With regard to NI, there are currently no planning guidelines for wind energy development. However, there is a general practice within the industry of taking congnisance of the Best Practice Guidelines  published by the IWEA 2012 the BWEA 1994; as well as the requirements of United Kingdom Government Departments such as Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Transport and also the requirements of the World Health Organisation 

    In addition, consideration is given to the requirements of bodies such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Scottish National Heritage.  In total, there can be up to 35-40 statutory and non-statutory bodies to be consulted in the development process. In essence, the planning guidelines for wind energy in Northern Ireland could be said to be a mixture of international and UK best practice.

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