J. Wind Energy Development Strategy

Appendix J

Wind Energy Development Strategy

As part of this Development Plan the 2008 Strategy was reviewed and revised.  The 2008 Strategy was based heavily on the landscape designation of ‘Areas of High Amenity’.  This designation, contained in the 2002 Plan, dated back to the 1970’s.  A Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) was carried out in 2003 in order to objectively categorise the county into its various landscape elements, and devise policies for each landscape type.  The 2008 Development Plan replaced ‘Areas of High Amenity’ with a suite of policies developed around the LCA.   The Wind Strategy should reflect the most current landscape designations in the Development Plan. 

The 2008 Strategy identified all ‘Areas of High Amenity’ as not normally permissible for wind energy development.  For the most part, Areas of High Amenity were upland areas with the highest wind speeds.  In the interests of a strategic approach and to maximise the potential resource of wind energy, the starting point taken was to focus on the areas of highest viability.


In line with the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, a step by step approach was taken to the identification of wind strategy policy areas.  Step 1 was to identify the areas of highest viability in the county, using the Wind Atlas of Ireland[1] (2003). 

Step 1: Wind Speed & viability

There are a number of factors which influence commercial wind farm viability, including wind speeds, the price of electricity, the distance from grid infrastructure and the height and number of turbines to be located on the site.  All of these factors (apart from wind speed) are subject to continuous change. 

The Wind Atlas of Ireland maps wind speeds in metres per second (m/s) at 50m, 75m and 100m height above ground level.  From a study of recent wind farm applications in Kilkenny, wind speeds of 8 metres per second were found to be the industry norm for viability.  Turbine blade tip heights permitted in Kilkenny range from 75m to 156m, or turbine hub heights of 60m to 100m.  In the interests of maximising the wind resource potential and taking a plan-led approach, only those areas of wind speeds 8m/s or above at 75m above ground level were selected and examined for possible wind farm development.  All areas with existing wind farm permissions are located in these areas of highest wind speeds, with the exception of the Bruckana (Lisheen) wind farm, near Urlingford.  This area was therefore also included, due to the presence of the wind farm.  In total then, 22 areas were selected, and these geographic areas are shown on Figure J1.   

Step 2: Evaluation of landscape

Step 2 was an evaluation of the landscape of these areas and its sensitivity to wind energy developments. 

The landscape was evaluated against a range of six factors as follows:    

·         Categorisation in LCA – was the landscape unit categorised as a Special or Sensitive area or suitable for development in the 2003 LCA? 

o   If designated as special or sensitive, a wind farm development may have a significant impact.  Conversely, if designated as suitable for development, a wind farm would have no likely significant impact. 

·         Prominent Ridge Lines/Peaks – does the area form a prominent ridge line or peak in the surrounding landscape?               

o   If it forms a prominent ridge line, a wind farm may have a significant impact.

·         Settings/backdrops/horizons to centres of population -                 does the area contain features that form a setting, backdrop, main outlook or horizon when viewed from areas of extensive population? 

o   If the area forms a backdrop or horizon for a large population centre, a wind farm development may have a significant visual impact.

  • Tourism/heritage – is the area rich in tourism and heritage features, does it contain any protected views/waymarked trails/tourism sites/heritage sites?
    • If the area is rich in tourism and heritage features a wind farm development may have a significant impact. 

·         Existing wind farms – Are there any existing wind farms built or permitted in the area?

o   In an area where wind farms are already permitted or built, there may be merit in clustering another wind farm in the same area.  Potential impacts may only be incrementally increased with the addition of another wind farm. 

·         Adjoining county’s policy where relevant – where the area adjoins another county boundary, what is the adjoining county’s Wind Strategy                for that area? 

o   For example, if an adjoining county designates an area as unsuitable for wind farms adjacent to the border, the designation of an adjoining area in Co. Kilkenny as being a Strategic Wind Farm area may have significant impacts on the adjoining county. 


The impact of a wind farm development on each of these 6 factors was assigned a colour coding as follows:

 Wind farm development would have no likely significant impact

Wind farm development may have an impact

 Wind farm development may have a significant impact


Step 3: Identification of Strategy areas

Following an analysis of the possible impacts of wind farm development in each of the 22 areas, each area was then placed into one of the following three categories for wind farm development:

Wind Energy Development Category


  • Preferred


  • Open for consideration


  • Unsuitable


This Strategy will manage the predicted expansion of wind energy development in a ‘plan-led’ manner, while ensuring that Kilkenny contributes to national targets for renewable energy.   

Designation of Wind Strategy areas

A total of 22 areas with wind speeds equal or greater than 8 m/s were identified.  These are assessed below and are shown on Figure 10.2 of the Plan. 


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