Dáil Éireann - Volume 662 - 07 October, 2008

Written Answers. - Planning Issues.

Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to reform planning permission for on-farm micro generation units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33733/08]

  Deputy John Gormley: In 2007, my Department reviewed the Planning Regulations with regard to exempted developments and carried out research into the planning implications of exempting renewable energy technologies in the industrial, business and agricultural sectors, with a view to providing specific exemptions wherever possible to encourage uptake of such technologies. On foot of this work, a consultation paper outlining proposed exemptions was issued in October 2007. A total of 51 submissions were received and carefully considered.

In July 2008, the Oireachtas approved the Planning and Development Regulations 2008, providing planning exemptions for specified renewable technologies in the industrial, business and agricultural sectors. A summary of the classes of micro-renewable technology exemptions applicable to agricultural sites is attached. These exemptions should reduce the demands placed on the planning system, while facilitating a greater penetration of these renewable technologies, [969] thereby providing cleaner and cheaper energy and helping our wider efforts to tackle climate change, improve security of energy supply, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

The introduction of equivalent exemptions for anaerobic digesters, building-mounted wind turbines and hydro-power was considered, but it was decided that these technologies should remain subject to the provisions of the planning system. However, I intend to keep this matter under review.

Classes of Exemptions for Renewable Technology (Agricultural)

Combined Heat and Power

Gross floor space of up to 300 m 2

Max height of 8 m, and max length of 40 m

200 m from nearest inhabited dwelling

10 m from nearest public road

Up to 2 flues, max height 20 m and max diameter 1 m

Noise levels must be less than 43 db(A) at site boundary

Only 1 per site.

Wind Turbines

No exemption for building-mounted turbines

Max height up to 20 m

Rotor diameter up to 8 m

Ground clearance of at least 3 m

Must be turbine height plus 5 m from nearest party boundary and non-electrical overhead cables

Must be turbine height plus 20 m from 38kV lines or own height plus 30 m from lines of 110kV or more

Consent of IAA required if within 5 km of an airfield, etc

Noise levels must be less than 43 db(A) at site boundary

Only 1 per site, and not within an ACA

No logos, and non-reflective finish

Solar panels (Thermal Collector and Photo-Voltaic (PV))

Solar thermal collector panels cannot be placed on walls

Total aperture area up to 50 m 2 or 50% of total roof area, whichever is lesser

Max distance of 50 cm from plane of a pitched roof to panel

[970] Max distance of 2 m from plane of a flat roof to panel

Must be at least 50 cm from edge of pitched roof, or 2 m from edge of flat roof

All associated equipment hidden within roof

Must be to the side or rear of the building

Aperture area of wall mounted or free-standing arrays up to 25 m 2

Ground source and air source heat pumps

Ground level alteration up to 1 m above or below adjoining ground

Total area of heat pumps up to 10 m 2

Must be at least 50 cm from edge of wall or roof

Noise levels must be less than 43 db(A) at site boundary

Must be distance from building foundations as recommended in SEI guidelines

Biomass

Gross floor space up to 20 m 2

Capacity of fuel storage tank above ground up to 75 m 3

Max height of boiler house or fuel tank up to 3 m

Up to 2 flues, max height up to 20 m and max diameter 1 m

Must be at least 100 m from nearest inhabited dwelling

Must be at least 10 m from nearest public road

Fuel from animal waste only on farms, and no wood containing dangerous substances anywhere

Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 439 of 22 April 2008, his views on whether the thrust of the question (details supplied) has been misunderstood; if he will have research undertaken to identify the local authorities who have been failing in this regard with a view to monitoring their performance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33789/08]

  Deputy John Gormley: As outlined in the reply to Questions Nos. 438 and 439 of 22 April 2008, it is the responsibility of planning authorities to monitor the degree to which those carrying out approved developments meet their obligations to comply with the terms of the planning permission granted and to enforce such terms where necessary. I also refer to the comprehensive reply to Question No. 1423 of 24 September 2008.

Decisions on appeals by An Bord Pleanála are a matter of public record. Such decisions detail instances where the Board is of the view that planning authorities have not had regard to planning guidelines and other requirements relevant to proper planning and sustainable [971] development. In addition, as part of its annual report, the Board produces analysis of its decision-making under various themes, including one-off rural housing. Accordingly, I have no plans to undertake specific research on this matter.