Seeking an appropriate layout design for a wind energy development is a challenging task. We have spent many months consulting the local community and carrying out surveys as part of this design work.
You can see the latest turbine layout on this website.
Seven Hills Wind Farm has the potential to provide significant investment to support community projects that will benefit local residents and community groups. We have committed a minimum of €16,000 per turbine, per year, for the lifetime of the project. This community benefit fund will be a dependable source of investment for the local community and will be tailored to meet local needs.
The scheme will operate in accordance with Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) best practice guidelines and grants will be made available after one year of wind farm operation. The fund will be administered through an independent charitable trust with the participation of a panel of local community representatives, who will help identify fund priorities and oversee grant allocations. Fund priorities might include skill development, tourism or regeneration of the area - together with sustainability goals.
Some wind farms offer a ‘proximity payment’, or local electricity discount scheme (LEDS), where households living close to a wind farm receive an annual payment. The current government-run Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) stipulates that every household located within a 1km radius of each wind farm which is in receipt of RESS, should receive a minimum payment of €1,000 per year. It is likely a similar scheme will be put in place for Seven Hills Wind Farm.
In addition to this, an annual business rates contribution will be paid to the council and will contribute to local infrastructure maintenance and improvements, e.g., roads, signage and amenities. This, in turn, will also benefit the wider local economy.
An ecologist has been working on site since 2018, monitoring wildlife. Surveys undertaken by independent ecologists and ornithologists are included in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), which will be submitted and made public as part of the planning application process. These independent studies and impact assessments are a key factor in the final design of the turbine layout.
As for livestock, wind turbines do not have any noticeable impact. Cattle, horses and sheep graze around wind turbines undisturbed.
The proposed development will be subject to a comprehensive landscape and visual impact assessment, which will assess the likelihood of significant adverse effects on the landscape and sensitive receptors. The visual impact studies provide observations on the turbine layout and photomontages taken from various vantage points are shared as part of the planning process to help visualise what the wind farm will look like from different angles and locations. These photomontages are available to view on the website.
It should be noted that the development proposal includes plans to lay connecting cables underground from the wind farm to Athlone, further minimising adverse effects on the landscape.
The noise emitted from wind turbines has been reduced significantly over the last decade. Modern design has considerably reduced the noise of mechanical components, so that the most audible sound is that of the wind interacting with the rotor blades. Even in quiet rural areas, the sound of the blowing wind is often louder than the turbines.
We have carried out a detailed noise monitoring programme as part of our Environmental Impact Assessment to demonstrate that noise levels will not adversely affect local residents. Noise limits are imposed as a planning condition, which remains in force for the lifetime of a wind farm and these limits are determined in line with best international practice.
All of these reports will be shared on our website part of the planning process.
Shadow flicker is the name given to a phenomenon caused when the sun is behind the turbine blades, as it rises or sets, casting a moving shadow over a small opening in a building, such as a window, creating a flickering effect within the building. This can only affect properties within a few hundred meters of the turbines.
A shadow flicker assessment forms part of the planning application. It is our intention to work to the draft Wind Energy Guidelines that stipulate zero shadow flicker.
Thanks to technology and accurate calculations, which can pinpoint the time when shadow flicker could occur, turbines are shut down automatically to prevent shadow flicker.
Wind farms are built in the areas most suitable for wind energy generation. The government has included onshore wind energy targets in its Climate Action Plan.
The proposed site has been designated suitable for wind energy generation and the project location is consistent with the Roscommon County Development Plan.
However, it is widely acknowledged at every level of government that developers must take local communities’ views and concerns into account through early community engagement before planning applications are submitted and the official period of public consultation begins.
A previous planning application for a wind farm on this site was initially approved by Roscommon County Council. This decision was referred to An Bord Pleanála, where it was upheld but later challenged and overturned in a Judicial Review of the decision.
This is a new and revised project, which will have fewer and more technologically advanced turbines in a different layout.
Working together in partnership, Energia and Galetech have incorporated all learnings, reports and observations from the previous planning application to help us design the most appropriate wind farm development for this location. In addition, we are drawing on more than two years of environmental monitoring data, which has been collected by our ecologist team.