Two companies who plan to erect 200 wind turbines in Laois will not delay planning applications while a government strategy is drawn up.
Element Power, who plan 150 turbines of 185m height, said their application will be submitted next summer to An Bord Pleanala, after planning guidelines are updated.
However they will not wait until a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) is finalised late next year. The government’s SEA will examine the cumulative impact of all wind export developments, and designate appropriate sites.
“An Bord Pleanála will not rule on any wind energy export project until such time as a Government commissioned Strategic Environmental Assessment is in place,” revealed CEO Tim Cowhig.
“Element Power was the first company to start a programme of consultation and engagement with stakeholders as well as the general public, and will continue this important work while the SEA is being prepared,” the company said.
Element Power added it would be ‘a discourtesy’ to discontinue dialogue now underway with groups.
“Putting the project on hold would only jeopardise the ability to deliver the project and the substantial economic benefits which it can bring,” Element Power said.
Mainstream, who hope to build about 50 turbines measuring 128m tall in Laois, said they will delay choosing locations and holding public consultations until the SEA is finalised.
However their planning application will be submitted on time in spring 2015.
“The revised programme impacts on the timing of some site-specific studies as well as formal consultation events but does not impact on our plan to submit a planning application in 2015,” they said.
Until the SEA is published, they will not know if their proposed sites are in windfarm designated zones.
“As well as this, the planning guidelines on noise and shadow flicker could have a significant impact on where proposed turbines could be located. When these are published next year we will hold formal public consultations based on established government policy,” they said.
“We will continue to consult with the public through the weekly Information Clinic at our Edenderry Office as well as one to one meetings,” Mainstream said.
Earlier this month Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte said projects for the UK grid must wait for revised planning guidelines and the SEA.