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A consultation draft of planning Guidelines for Wind Farm Development in Ireland, issued by the Department of the Environment, is strongly supportive of wind energy. The draft encourages county councils -- which have day to day responsibility for planning matters -- to look positively on wind farms. Compiled against the background of developments in the UK and in the light of proposals for new wind farms in Ireland, the document suggests that county structure plans in the future should identify areas suitable for wind development and that county councils should assess their wind resource in advance of planning applications. While Environmental Impact Assessment reports are not obligatory, wind developers should provide them as a matter of course for larger projects. Installation of power transmission lines rather than the project itself can be of most concern. The report warns that turbines should not dominate the landscape or be prominent when seen against an elevated skyline from public roads, towns or villages. The turbines should all rotate in the same direction and be painted in non reflective paint in either white or grey. The draft guidelines encourage planners to facilitate the installation of wind measurement masts -- only exceptional cases should be met by refusal.

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