Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ireland faces EU fine of €1.7m over wind farm error

SAVINGS: More wind farms will mean cheaper electricity for all. Stock picture
SAVINGS: More wind farms will mean cheaper electricity for all. Stock picture
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Ireland is facing a fine of €1.7m over its failure to comply with an EU Court judgment relating to the Derrybrien wind farm in Galway.

The wind farm, which was constructed more than 13 years ago, was one of the largest in the EU. However, no environmental impact assessment was carried out for the project.

Its construction required the removal of large areas of forest and the extraction of peat up to 5.5 metres deep from the top of Cashlaundrumlahan Mountain, causing a devastating landslide in October 2003. The landslide destroyed the ecology of a 20km section of a nearby river system, killing around 50,000 fish.

The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2008 that an EIS must be carried out for the 70 turbine wind farm.

However, the European Commission is now taking Ireland back to the Court of Justice for the EU over the State's failure to comply with that court ruling.

It wants a fine of €1.685m along with a possible daily penalty of over €12,000 if full compliance is not achieved by the date of the ruling.

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

"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," it stated.

"The commission is requesting the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a minimum lump sum payment of €1,685,000 (€1,343.20 per day). The Commission is also proposing a daily penalty payment of €12,264, 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," it added.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 28 national environmental organisations, welcomed the commission's decision. It said the decision highlighted "the catastrophic failure by our Government to adhere to environmental law and forces Ireland to protect its environment for its people".

Irish Independent

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