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  • The Minister for Housing and Planning has notified local authorities of changes she is making to planning regulations to exempt further works from planning permission as follows:

    • Charging points for electric vehicles
    • Use of existing telecommunications infrastructure
    • Works to septic tanks arising from water services authority inspections
    • Works coming under consent systems under the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine

    The installation of electric charging points will subject to certain conditions and limitations in relation to size and advertising, including that the size of any such charging point shall not exceed 3 metres, or 0.5 cubic metres when located on a public road.

    The newly amended Class 31 in the attached Regulations thus clarifies that anybody authorised to provide a telecommunications service can use existing poles to carry fibre optic or similar telecommunications cable (or erect new poles for that purpose), and can also attach small brackets or devices – subject to size limitations –  containing spare rolled up cable.

    The exemption for remedial works to septic tanks / treatment systems relates to situations where an owner is directed by a water services authority to take necessary remediation measures.

    The final amendment, relating to works under other consent systems (under the remit of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine), is a technical change which reinstates a previous exemption from planning for certain works (consent under other systems will still be required).

    Published on August 29, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development;
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  • The Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, T.D has announced that he has instructed his officials to develop an overall policy and planning framework which will guide An Bord Pleanála when considering any proposals for wind energy export projects.

    The framework which will be based on a Strategic Environmental Assessment, will be prepared over the coming twelve months and will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders including local authorities, potential project developers and local communities to be consulted and have an input into the national policy for wind export.

    Minister Rabbitte commented “As I have previously said, a clear national planning policy context for Renewable Energy Export is essential for An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in assessing and determining individual strategic projects. The framework we will develop will provide an opportunity to integrate relevant EU Directive requirements – Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive – in the context of developing a new national framework”

    The Minister added that any renewable energy export strategy would also depend on the conclusion of an Intergovernmental Agreement that would ensure such exports were in the interests of both Ireland and Britain. “By the end of this year we hope to make an agreement with the British side. By this time next year we will be finalising a planning framework that will give confidence and certainty to all stakeholders. In the autumn of 2014, therefore, project promoters will be able to submit proposals to ABP in the knowledge that there is a clear framework for decisions”.

    Given the well documented large scale projects looking to set up in the midlands this new policy looks to be very timely.


    Published on August 29, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy;
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  • West Coastal Windpower Ltd had proposed a 45-turbine windfarm involving 126 metre high turbines, nearly double the height of Liberty Hall.  The application constituted strategic infrastructure development and was made directly to An Bord Pleanala.

    There were a significant number of objectors to the proposed development and An Bord Pleanala held an oral hearing to discuss the proposal in detail.

    The An Bord Pleanala Inspector recommended that permission be refused for 4 no. reasons relating to  1) negative impact on residential amenity and tourism, 2) proximity to a river containing the freshwater pearl mussel, 3) impact on future bird populations in the area, particularly the Whooper Swan and 4) the proposal being contrary to the Wind Energy Strategy for County Clare which identifies the appropriate scale of development for such areas to be medium 6-10 turbines and too close to existing/permitted windfarms in the area.

    The Board agreed with their inspector refusing permission on the basis of 3 no. reasons, with the Inspector’s recommendation regarding bird populations being the only reason omitted from the final order.

    This decision brings into question the concept of strategic infrastructure development whereby speed of decision and some degree of certainty in terms of a decision (given the applicant is dealing with An Bord Pleanala directly) was to be expected. However in this instance the very principle of such a large scale development must surely have been raised in pre-planning discussions given the local authority strategy that was in place.  The applicant has now been left with an expensive bill to pay the Board and objectors.

    Published on August 27, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions;
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