ESB dismantles 70 turbines at wind farm hit by landslide, costing the state millions of dollars in fines


The ESB will tear down the Derrybrien wind farm, which cost the state millions of euros in fines after it was built in violation of environmental regulations.

Construction of 70 wind turbines at Co Galway will begin immediately after hiring a professional contractor.

ESB stopped power generation at its site in the mountains of Slieve A Nghe last month after being denied a form of retrospective planning permission known as alternative consent.

Bord Pleanála ruled that damage caused by the wind farm could not be minimized and it could not comply with zoning laws.

The ESB said on Wednesday that it had considered various legal options for it and concluded that the only solution left was to cease operations.

Derrybrien has caused the state to pay 17 million euros in fines since November 2019 when the European Court of Justice ruled that proper environmental impact assessments had not been carried out when initial planning permission was granted. planned more than 20 years ago.

The flaw is a planning procedure that came to light after wind farm construction caused a landslide in 2003, causing extensive damage to land, property, rivers and wildlife.

Fines have increased to €15,000 a day since the court ruling.

Fines are imposed on the state, not the company, because planning procedures are a function of the state.

ESB, which owns the wind farm through its subsidiary Gort Windfarms, has always insisted that there were no cases to respond because it followed the procedures set out for it.

The ensuing dispute between the state and the ESB over who is responsible for correcting the errors has dragged on for more than a decade.

Martin Collins of the Derrybrien Community Group, which has promoted investigations into the landslide and has spent years monitoring the wind farm, said removing it was the right decision at this stage but added: “There is no winner among these.”

“We are having an energy crisis and a wind farm is being demolished, but it should never have happened,” he said.

“There have been times over the years where it could have been worked out but that’s not the approach that has been taken.”

Mr. Collins said the community was not informed of the decision to shut down and he was concerned about the way the work was carried out.

“It was a huge job. There are 70 turbines brought down. I guess they won’t dig the concrete facilities but even so, there will be a lot of activity in the mountains again.

“And what happened after that? The site will have to be managed and the drainage will have to be maintained indefinitely. I hope we get some clarity on that. ”

An ESB spokesman said it was not possible at this time to say how long the demolition would take, but said all work would be carried out in accordance with planning laws and regulations.

The Derrybrien is expected to continue in production until 2040.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, which handled the case on behalf of the State said: “The department notes the decision announced by the ESB today.

“Now, further engagement with the Commission will take place to clarify Ireland’s compliance status with the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) ruling.” ESB dismantles 70 turbines at wind farm hit by landslide, costing the state millions of dollars in fines

Fry Electronics Team

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