Draft PPS 18: Renewable Energy
Policy RE 1 Justification & Amplification: Information Requirements
4.24. Certain renewable energy developments, depending on their scale or location, may require a formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the provisions of the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999. Further information on the need for EIA for the various renewable energy technologies is set out in Annex 1. In addition, where such development is located in a “sensitive area”4, EIA will also be required if it is likely to have a significant effect on the environment. Development Control Advice Note 10 Environmental Impact Assessment provides general guidance for prospective developers on this matter and highlights requirements in relation to procedures to be followed where projects in Northern Ireland are likely to have a significant effect on the Republic of Ireland.
4.25. Where renewable energy development does not fall within the requirements of the EIA Regulations, the Department will still expect an assessment of the environmental effects of the development to be submitted with any application. The level of detail required should reflect the scale of the technology employed and take account of its location. For most micro-generation schemes a short report will normally suffice. For larger scale projects, developers will also be expected to outline the benefits arising from the development in terms of the energy produced in order to enable a balanced assessment of the proposal to be carried out.
4.26. The Department would also draw the attention of prospective developers of renewable energy projects to the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 . Under these Regulations the Department, as the “competent authority”, is required to undertake an Appropriate Assessment of any proposal that has the potential to significantly effect a European Site, either directly or indirectly. In such cases developers must provide such information as the Department may reasonably require for the purposes of this Assessment. Further information on Appropriate Assessment is contained in the publication: Habitats Regulations Guidance Notes for Competent Authorities, Environment and Heritage Service September 2002 . It should be noted that under the provisions of Planning Policy Statement 2, that Appropriate Assessment may be required for renewable energy proposals that have the potential to significantly effect other Sites of International Nature Conservation Importance (reference Footnote 3: Natural and Built Heritage Considerations).
4.27. The Department would stress that failure to supply adequate environmental information to accompany planning applications for renewable energy projects, in particular large scale schemes such as windfarms, is a key cause of delay in determining such proposals.
4 Regulation 3 of the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 defines a sensitive area as: an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI); an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); a National Park; a World Heritage Site; a scheduled Monument; or European Sites as defined in regulation 9 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc,) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 such as a Special Protection Area (SPA) or a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).