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Community information resources
Click to download the slides from the community information webinar on the Cloghercor Wind Farm proposal, held on 29 November 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
Please find some frequently asked questions below. If we can address any further questions, get in touch with us at: email@example.com.
A Meteorological Mast (met mast) is a temporary structure which informs the suitability of a site for potential wind farm development by carrying out a number of detailed measurements, such as wind speed. The erection of a met mast is part of the detailed feasibility studies that are being undertaken, including environmental and ecological surveys.
Following Donegal County Council permitting an application for a Section 5 Declaration of Exempted Development, an 80 metre met mast was erected in 2020 to undertake these studies. In March 2022, the height of the met mast was extended to 100 metres, in accordance with planning permission, in order to provide more detailed measurements.
This site has been identified as potentially suitable for an onshore renewable energy project for a number of reasons, including good wind resource at the site; set-back from properties and sensitive ecological areas; and a connection to the National Electricity Grid close by. In addition, the area is designated as “Open to Consideration” for wind energy in the Donegal County Council Development Plan.
The site is not located in a Special Area of Conservation, a Special Protection Area or a Natural Heritage Area, although these are nearby. In addition, there is an existing network of forest roads within the site that can be utilised for access – thus minimising disturbance during construction.
A team of environmental specialists have been carrying out feasibility studies within the proposed project’s Study Area since 2019. These studies are allowing us to obtain a better understanding of the suitability of the Study Area for the onshore wind energy project. Environmental studies, along with feedback from the local community and other stakeholders, will be used to inform the design of the proposed project.
We are committed to engaging inclusively with stakeholders and developing a responsible project that is good for society and for our neighbours. We envisage that a planning application could be submitted to the consenting authority in Autumn/Winter 2022.
Under EU law any proposed project which could have an impact on the environment must be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
This requires the project developer to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). In this report the developer must identify all the effects, both positive and negative, the proposed development would have on the environment.
It considers a range of environmental factors such as biodiversity; land, soil, water, air and climate; population and human health; material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape. All of these factors are being studied in detail at the Cloghercor Wind Farm site.
If the developer identifies any negative impacts they must set out the steps they will take to address these issues and protect the environment.
In general an EIAR should consist of five main sections:
● An outline of the proposed development;
● An outline of the existing environment;
● An outline of the impact the proposed development would have on the environment;
● Proposed measures to mitigate against any negative impacts;
● A non-technical summary of the EIAR.
More detail on what should be contained in an EIAR can be found in a set of guidelines published by the Environmental Protection Agency at this link: https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring--assessment/assessment/draft-guidelines-on-the-information-to-be-contained-in-environmental-impact-asse.php
The EIAR is submitted as part of the planning application to the relevant planning authority. It is then circulated to other stakeholders and made available to the public before a decision is made on whether to grant permission for the project.
Danish renewables company Ørsted and FuturEnergy Ireland, an ESB-Coillte joint venture, are co-development partners for the proposed Cloghercor Wind Farm. Both companies are contributing to the ongoing development of this renewable energy project, with Ørsted as the lead developer.
If Cloghercor Wind Farm is successful in achieving a route to market, Coillte and other third-party landowners will lease their necessary lands to the project developers for the duration of the wind farm’s operational lifecycle. The proposed wind farm would take up a very small percentage of the site area (roughly 3%), which means that the existing operational forest would continue and co-exist alongside the wind farm development.
The layout of the turbines and potential substation locations will be determined upon the conclusion of our environmental scoping exercises. Our initial proposal for Cloghercor Wind Farm is available to view on our project website, which we have been using to consult and inform the community since Summer 2021. Further to community feedback, and the findings of our ongoing studies, we will refine and revise our plans. The final site layout will also be consulted upon with the community prior to submitting a planning application to An Bord Pleanála.
A site layout will be included as part of the planning application which is accompanied by the environmental impact assessment report (EIAR) / environmental impact statement (EIS).
Our initial proposal, which you can view on our website, is for up to 23 turbines with a maximum tip height of 200m. This turbine height allows for greater generation of energy and will deliver up to 140MW of green electricity to the National Grid.
The final design and turbine specification will be finalised as we progress with the project, taking into account the findings of ongoing feasibility and environmental studies.
Not currently, as we are still at a relatively early stage in the project. You can view our initial proposal in the virtual exhibition room. Further to your feedback and the findings of ongoing environmental and feasibility studies we will refine our proposal and consult the community further, at which point we will also have more detailed visualisations of the proposed development from various viewpoints.
Visualisations will also form part of the eventual planning application for An Bord Pleanála.
Not directly. However, all power generated through commercial wind farms feeds into the National Grid, which then powers communities across Ireland.
Cloghercor Wind Farm will produce clean, green energy which will assist the country in its journey to achieving net-zero emissions. If approved, the project will also provide a fund for the community to utilise towards causes that will benefit and assist everyone in the local area.
For most of us, the purchase of our family home is the single, largest financial investment we will make in our lives. It is understandable that property owners, on hearing that a wind farm is to be developed in their community, may have concerns about its possible impact on the resale ability or value of their home.
There has been no official research carried out in Ireland on the potential impact of onshore wind developments on house prices and we have not identified any peer-reviewed evidence in Ireland that indicates wind farms lower or impact property prices. Some estate agents may have made such claims about individual sales, however, it is impossible to make a judgement based on an individual homeowner reporting that they were unhappy with the price they received for their house. A statistical assessment of thousands of properties over many years is required to inform this.
However, research conducted in the UK that has examined the potential impact of wind farms on house prices has found that there are no consistent negative effects on house price growth from being situated near to a wind farm. The study findings can be found at this link: https://www.climatexchange.org.uk/research/projects/impact-of-wind-farms-on-property-prices/.
The vast majority of similar studies conducted in other parts of the world have also found no evidence to support the claim that a wind farm has a negative impact on local property prices.
SIDs cover a wide range of developments and are submitted directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination. SIDs can generally be described as development which is of strategic economic or social importance to Ireland, the region or local areas, including onshore wind developments of more than 25 turbines or generating more than 50MW in energy.
As the proposed Cloghercor Wind Farm meets that criteria, an application has been made to An Bord Pleanála for Cloghercor Wind Farm to be considered as a Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID).
If An Bord Pleanála determine that the project qualifies as a SID, the project will apply directly to An Bord Pleanála, rather than the County Council, and the planning permission will be determined through this process. Individuals and the County Council will be still be able to submit observations on the project as per normal protocol after the planning application has been submitted.
It is likely to be several years before construction on the Cloghercor project commences.
The project is still in its early stages of feasibility and development of the wind farm design. Further to initial surveys and engagement with the community, we will decide how to proceed with submitting a planning application and aim to keep the community informed throughout this process. It is our hope to be in a position to finalise and submit our planning application in Autumn/Winter of 2022.
The period of time between a developer deciding to proceed with submitting a planning application and construction can take several years. As a responsible developer, should the project receive planning permission we will set out our construction plan to ensure that the wind farm is designed in such a way as to minimise disruption locally.
This design has not yet been completed, however, we are keen to reassure the community and interested parties that a key priority will be ensuring that there are sufficient measures in place to manage impacts from the proposal, such as run-off from the site during construction and operation of the project. Any drainage on the site would likely make use of existing forestry drains and their current discharge points with siltation protection put in place during construction to mitigate against any silt run off from the site.
A wind turbine generates two kinds of noise. The first is an aerodynamic noise which is created when the turbine blades pass through the air. The second noise is mechanical and is caused by the generator in the turbine’s nacelle – this is the large box positioned at the top of the turbine behind the rotors.
Every effort is made by wind farm developers and by the manufacturers of turbines to minimise the amount of noise they generate. The soundproofing on nacelles has been improved, and designers are constantly trying to find ways to improve the blade design to reduce noise. As a result, the noise generated by turbines has been reduced substantially in recent years and often the wind itself is noisier than the turbines.
The team developing the proposal for Cloghercor Wind Farm are undertaking extensive studies and noise monitoring to identify how best to locate the turbines to ensure any potential disruption for local residents is eliminated or minimised. We are currently assessing a number of models of turbines from a noise perspective. If the project is successful at planning, any turbine model would need to abide by the planning conditions outlined in the planning permission.
When planning a wind farm, extensive studies are carried out to identify the best location for each individual turbine to ensure any potential disruption for local residents is eliminated or kept to an absolute minimum. In general, Ireland’s Wind Energy Guidelines specify noise limits at neighbouring properties that are set between 35 and 45 dB(A)7 depending on the time of day and the level of background noise. (dB refers to decibels and (A) refers to the weighting applied to the decibel levels that takes into account the sensitivity of our ears to different sound frequencies. This places greater weighting on noise generated at the frequencies that people are most sensitive to.) To put this in context, your kitchen fridge typically generates a sound level of around 50 decibels while 40 decibels would be the noise in a quiet office. More information can be found here: http://chchearing.org/noise/common-environmental-noise-levels/.
In December 2019, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government published Draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines that proposed much stricter limits for noise detectable at dwellings adjacent to wind energy developments. A public consultation commenced and the Government is expected to publish revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines once this process has concluded. This is included as a key target in the current Programme for Government.
Without appropriate control systems, shadow flicker can occur at certain times of the day, typically when the sun is low in the sky. At these times, the movement of blades can periodically cast momentary shadows through the windows of a home that cause the light to appear to flicker.
Modern turbine technology allows for constant monitoring of the conditions that cause shadow flicker to occur and can therefore control the operation of the turbine to reduce or eliminate any impact. The 2019 Draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines propose that future projects should be conditioned to prohibit any shadow flicker from occurring.
In practice, if the turbine blades are spinning quite rapidly, it can take one or two minutes for the wind turbine control system to safely shut it down but it is certainly possible to reduce any shadow flicker to negligible levels.
Cloghercor Wind Farm has committed to having zero shadow flicker at residential properties around the site. As above, our approach to ensuring turbines are turned off during periods when shadow flicker could occur at nearby properties will form part of our planning application.
EirGrid is ultimately the body responsible for deciding on the grid connection for the project. It is likely that any grid connection would be underground cable from the site.
The details of the transport and construction process will be confirmed in due course. At this stage they depend on the outcomes of ongoing site studies. We appreciate the need to work closely with local communities to ensure that any impacts are minimised and are arranged to work within local circumstances.
We are still in the process of identifying the exact access route and should be in a position to show this on a map as part of our Design Iteration 2 in 2022. Where the access route is on a public road already, that will remain public. Where the access route is on private land this would remain private to vehicular traffic in any case.
During construction, the wind farm will have responsibility for maintenance of roads that are being used for construction.
During the operational phase of the wind farm, if it is a public road, Donegal County Council will be responsible for maintenance of the road. The wind farm will contribute to Donegal County Council through rates which will contribute to the upkeep of the road infrastructure.
In terms of site maintenance, all efforts will be made to minimise visual disruption during construction on the site. Once construction has been completed, temporary hard stands will be removed and returned to their original land use at the end of construction phase.
The details of the transport and construction process will be confirmed in due course. At this stage they depend on the outcomes of the feasibility studies we are undertaking. We appreciate the need to work closely with local communities to ensure that any impacts are minimised and are arranged to work within local circumstances.
Parts of the forestry will be felled to facilitate the development. An approach known as “keyholing” is taken when felling the forestry, meaning that only the area immediately around the turbine and hardstanding that is required for infrastructural or ecological set-backs is felled.
That, together with any limited felling required to create new roads, will be detailed as part of the planning application.
The depth of excavation will depend on the ground conditions found at the site following site investigation. Typically, 3 -5 meters depth of excavation is required. This will be detailed further as part of the design for the wind farm.
The lifetime of onshore wind developments is usually 25-30 years, following which the development is decommissioned. The lifetime of Cloghercor Wind Farm will be defined in the planning application documents that are prepared for An Bord Pleanála.
It is a condition of every planning permission for a wind farm that a bond is put in place with the local planning authority which covers the cost of decommissioning the wind turbines and site restoration. A decommissioning plan must also be set out, and the developer is not authorised to start construction of the wind farm until this is in place.
When a wind farm is decommissioned the turbines are removed and the land/site is restored to its original state or as close as practicable.
Approximately 85 to 90 per cent of wind turbines are completely recyclable. Recycling turbine blades can be challenging, however work is underway to overcome this challenge and find appropriate uses for decommissioned turbine parts.
Depending on the final size of the wind farm, a significant number of jobs could be created during the construction phase.
In addition, at peak construction there are a number of indirect jobs created through the sub-supply of a wide range of products and services, including:
● Gravel and graded stone for roads and hard stand areas;
● Concrete and steel for turbine bases;
● Building materials for sub-stations;
● Haulage of components from the ports to the site;
● Accommodation and food and beverages for workers;
● Legal and financial services.
We plan to engage proactively with the local business community to ensure that the benefits of the development are felt in the local and regional economy.
A larger wind farm would also provide a number of permanent jobs in operations, maintenance and support. A common rule of thumb in the industry is that every 10 MW of wind energy installed creates one full-time job in operations and maintenance.
If you are a locally-based supplier and would like to share your details with our project team for future reference, please get in touch.
As experienced developers, we have worked with communities nearby to our renewable energy projects to deliver sustainable, long-term community initiatives that meet local priorities, needs and objectives. In accordance with the government-led Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS), if the project is approved then a substantial community benefit fund will be provided throughout the period that Cloghercor Wind Farm is commissioned. You can find more details about the RESS online: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/36d8d2-renewable-electricity-support-scheme/.
Depending on the final size of the wind farm, this fund could be in excess of €500,000 per year, which will include a near neighbour scheme.
Distribution of the community benefit fund will ultimately be for the community to decide in partnership with the project team.
Community benefit funds associated with other wind farms across Ireland have supported local projects, festivals clubs, schools, sports clubs and energy efficiency programmes. They can also be used to improve broadband connectivity, or create and sponsor opportunities to increase education and skills provision in the area. Some wind farm operators also use these funds to provide local amenities such as walking trails, cycleways and nature trails.
In addition, wind farms contribute around €30 million in rates to local councils every year. This enables councils to fund roads, programmes and services across rural Ireland although ultimately, how this funding is spent is a matter for the county council.
This is in addition to payments wind farms would make to local landowners for permission to place wind turbines or other wind energy infrastructure on their property.
We will work closely with the local community from initial scoping throughout the project to identify how the community benefit fund would best be utilised, based on local priorities, needs and objectives.
If the project is approved, we will establish a group of representatives from the community who will consult upon the best way to manage any future community benefit fund, to ensure that it is accessible for projects that are deemed to be of importance in the local area.
In addition to the community benefit fund, a near neighbour scheme will be in place for residents in close proximity to the turbines. This can take many forms including direct financial payments of up to €1,000 per year; support to the household with their energy bills; payments to enable households to retrofit their homes or to improve their property; or support for further education.
The project team is open to considering ideas from the community as to improvements or enhancements that could be made to the site. We have instructed an independent consultant to undertake surveys on site to provide recommendations on the suitability of the site for recreational routes and will consider our approach to this based on the feedback.
Keep visiting our website for the latest project updates.
We also send out regular newsletters to local residents to keep them informed of our proposals and our next steps.
We are keen to work closely with the community as we progress this project. If you are a member of a community group and are keen to find out more, we would like to hear from you.
You can keep in touch with us at:
Telephone: (021) 422 3677
Renewable energy resources
There is a wealth of independent information and advice available on renewable energy projects. Please refer to the list below to find out more.