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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 324-325
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 324-325

Wind Energy Guidelines

 324. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps prior to the undertaking of a strategic environment assessment in view of the revised wind energy guidelines that are necessary to take before the competition to carry out this work can be advertised in the European Journal; the time taken to process the tenders under this process and appoint an organisation to carry out this work; if a separate tender process is required in advance of this to obtain advice on the way to prepare the tender documents for this process; when the main tender process will be advertised in the European Journal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18188/17]

 325. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps involved in a strategic environment assessment in view of the revised wind energy policies; if such a nationwide assessment has been carried out in respect of any other situation to date; the timeframe involved in carrying out this assessment in terms of public consultation, the publication of draft documents, submissions from the public, finalising the document and the process for approving such an assessment; the time necessary to gather information regarding the impact on the areas to be considered under the strategic environment assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18192/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 324 and 325 together.

  In light of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to finalise the review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines and on-going policy and legal developments in this area, my Department is continuing to advance work on the proposed revisions to the Guidelines and related matters, in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, in order to bring the various issues to a conclusion as early as possible. I expect to be in a position to make a statement on the matter in the coming weeks, outlining the timelines for implementation of the various elements.

  As part of the overall review, and having regard to a recent ECJ Judgment in Case C-290/15 on the Belgian/Wallonian wind energy regulatory order, it is proposed to undertake a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the proposed revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines before they come into effect. This assessment will be in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment.

  SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

  The SEA process comprises a number of stages including: screening, scoping, environmental assessment, public consultation and implementation. 

  Screening is a process which considers whether a particular plan or programme, other than those for which SEA is mandatory, would be likely to have significant environmental effects, and would thus warrant SEA.  Scoping is the procedure whereby the range of environmental issues and the level of detail to be included in the SEA Environmental Report are decided upon, in consultation with the prescribed environmental authorities.  The environmental assessment stage identifies, describes and evaluates any likely significant effects on the environment of implementing the proposed plan or programme.  Following this, the SEA Environmental Report and draft Plan (i.e. the Draft Revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines) are put out to public consultation, which is likely to be for a period of 6 to 8 weeks in this case.  The outcome of the public consultation must then be taken into account, together with the integration of environmental considerations, prior to the plan being finalised and adopted. In the case of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, a SEA Statement (Information on Decision) will then be published by my Department when the plan is formally adopted.

  It is currently estimated that the SEA process in relation to the proposed revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines will take approximately 6 months.

  There have been a number of SEAs recently carried out on national-level plans and programmes across a number of sectors, such as the SEA conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020, as well as the SEAs that my Department is presently undertaking in relation to the proposed National Planning Framework: Ireland 2040 - Our Plan and the Draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland (2018-2021). 

  In line with the requirements of the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), any procurement undertaken by my Department in respect of the SEA process on the Wind Energy Development Guidelines will comply with national and EU procurement rules and procedures as advised on the OGP website http://ogp.gov.ie/, and in accordance with associated guidelines provided on the eTenders website http://etenders.gov.ie/, which is managed by the OGP.  It is expected that it will take approximately 3 months to complete the tender process in this regard.

  In light of the these requirements, which it is estimated will take approximately 9 months in total, it is likely that while the draft proposals for revised Guidelines will be available shortly, the Guidelines themselves will not be finalised and will not come into effect until the end of the year.


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