Clarity urgently needed on rules around wind turbine setback distance

  • Turbine-to-house rules clear, but reverse not so much
  • Has potential to hugely negatively impact rural areas


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for clarity to be issued on the 500-metre setback rule for wind turbine developments, as it pertains to new house builds.

The current uncertainty has the potential to negatively impact on the potential for rural building, unless certainty is issued by the appropriate authorities, Deputy Crowe feels.

“I’m calling on the Office of the Planning Regulator to immediately clarify the setback distances for wind turbines,” said Deputy Crowe.

“At the moment, the national planning guidelines for wind energy date back to 2006 and are hugely outdated. A newer version of these guidelines is needed to provide clarity for the wind energy sector and also to provide protection for local communities.

“As a rule of thumb, wind turbines are generally set back a distance of 500m from the nearest residence.

“This buffer is for safety reasons but also to ensure that turbines don’t have a visual overbearing insofar as neighbouring dwellings are concerned.

“I’ve attended a number of community meetings in Co. Clare over the last three years and we are seeing a long litany of applications for new wind farms being queued up at this time.

He continued: “A major concern that I have is that the setback distance has the potential to work in reverse – by this I believe that, if a turbine cannot be constructed within 500m of an existing house, surely a house cannot be constructed within 500m of an existing turbine.

“The cumulative effect of this could be devastating in a rural area like East Clare, where approximately 80 wind turbines could be built over the coming years.

“If each of these turbines had a setback distance of 500m, you would have an unworkable situation whereby there would be many intersecting setback radiuses of 500m, thereby potentially prohibiting people building dwellings anywhere between them.

“In summary, the setback distance from turbine to house is somewhat clear – but there’s very little clarity in how the reverse of this might work.

“For this reason, the Office of the Planning Regulator needs to clearly articulate position on this, so that communities in rural Ireland aren’t sleep walking into scenarios whereby large sections of their communities are essentially blocked from future development for housing.”