The EU closes the Derrybrien wind farm case against Ireland after 20 years

The European Commission has stopped fining Ireland for environmental breaches at Derrybrien Wind Farm.

around €17 million in fines and daily penalties accumulated since the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in 2019 in a 2004 case.

However, the case is only closed from the EU perspective.

The Department of Housing says the wind farm now has unauthorized development status and Galway County Council, as the local planning authority, must oversee the next steps.

ESB, which owns the wind farm through a subsidiary, stopped generating electricity there last year and announced that it would start preparations for the decommissioning and dismantling of the 70 turbines.

The case arose from a massive landslide at Co Galway Wind Farm in 2003, causing tremendous damage to land, rivers, property and wildlife.

Investigations into the incident revealed that insufficient environmental impact assessments were conducted to determine the suitability of the site for development.

Although the wind farm is owned by ESB, the state was found culpable for failing to require the developers to carry out an appropriate environmental impact assessment in line with EU law.

The court ruled in 2008 that there must be an a posteriori assessment of the project’s suitability, but the state failed to do so.

Part of the problem was a dispute between the state and the ESB over how to resolve the issue.

In 2019, the Commission finally ran out of patience and imposed a fine of 5 million euros, with additional penalties of 15,000 euros for each day the situation remained unresolved.

In 2021, faced with mounting fines, ESB agreed to apply to An Bord Pleanála for a replacement development permit, a form of retroactive approval, but the planning authority refused to grant it.

The Housing Ministry said yesterday the European Commission has now accepted that the state has taken all necessary steps to comply with the court ruling.

A statement said: “The precise details regarding the future of the site in relation to the closure and restoration of the site are a matter for Galway County Council and the owner of the site, with County Council’s role in planning and enforcement increasing as the responsible planning authority.”

The Housing Ministry said the deadline for the daily penalties was set in February last year, when An Bord Pleanála made its decision on the replacement consent. The EU closes the Derrybrien wind farm case against Ireland after 20 years

Fry Electronics Team

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