Ireland could be fined €12k per day until assessment of a Galway wind farm is completed

Commission is also seeking to impose a minimum lump sum payment of €1.685m

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The European Commission is taking Ireland back to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to comply with part of a 2008 Court judgement, by not properly carrying out an environmental impact assessment for the Derrybrien wind farm in Galway.

In 2008, the court ruled Ireland failed in its environmental obligations involving a wind-farm project in Co Galway where a landslide occurred in 2003.

At the time of the landslide in October 2003, the wind farm at Derrybrien was the largest in Ireland. Its construction required the removal of large areas of forest and extraction of peat up to 5.5 metres deep on the top of the Cashlaundrumlahan Mountain, causing a 2km environmentally devastating landslide in October 2003.

The landslide moved nearly half a million cubic metres of earth, polluted a river and killed 50,000 fish.

Ruling against Ireland, the European Court of Justice said the landslide occurred because a proper environmental impact assessment was not carried out prior to construction of the wind farm.

Although the Derrybrien wind farm was constructed already more than 13 years ago, no sufficient impact assessment has still been carried out.

The Commission has said such impact assessment of certain public and private projects on the environment is required under the EU rules before construction is allowed to commence.

The scale of the development and its sensitive moorland hilltop location means that its operation continues to have an impact locally.

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"The site could still benefit from mitigation and remediation measures, but these can only be identified after an environmental impact assessment has been done. Ireland must, therefore, ensure that this happens," the Commission has said.

The Court of Justice of the EU ruled on 3 July 2008, amongst others, that Ireland had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the 70 turbine wind farm – the largest in Ireland, and, at the time of judgment, one of the largest in the EU.

The Commission is requesting the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a minimum lump sum payment of €1.685m.

The Commission is also proposing a daily penalty payment of €12,264.00, if full compliance is not achieved by the date when the Court issues its ruling.

The final decision on the penalties rests with the Court of Justice of the EU.

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