€5m fine for wind farm disaster to double with €15,000 a day penalties
The €5m fine imposed on the State for the Derrybrien wind farm fiasco is set to at least double before the problem is rectified.
An additional €810,000 in daily penalties has built up and €15,000 more is being added every day.
By mid-October the accumulated penalties will match the fine, and all indications are it will take longer than that to resolve the issue.
The European Commission, which handed down a damning judgment on November 12, has demanded payment of the €5m fine by January 27.
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The Department of Housing, which is responsible for remedying the planning breaches at the centre of the case, said it was still awaiting instructions as to when and how often the daily penalties had to be paid.
"Every effort is being made to resolve this issue as speedily as possible," it said. "It is not possible to put a timeline on compliance with the judgment."
The 70-turbine wind farm, owned by Gort Windfarms, a company owned by ESB, was built in the Slieve Aughty Mountains between Gort and Loughrea, Co Galway in 2003 without proper environmental impact assessment.
A landslide occurred during construction which caused major damage and is thought to have contributed to severe flooding the following year.
The State was taken to court by the European Commission in 2008 for failing to investigate the likely impact of the development and ordered to retrospectively assess it.
But that order was not complied with, and the commission took a further case which ended with the fine and daily penalties being imposed last November.
The Department of Housing said ESB had given a commitment it would submit the wind farm to a substitute consent process "as soon as possible".
An application for consent must be lodged with An Bord Pleanála and it is expected to take at least until April to prepare.
It is likely to take An Bord Pleanála a minimum of six months to consider the application after that.
ESB would not comment on the process or the negotiations with the Government departments. "While Gort Windfarms Limited was not a party to this case, it takes note of the recent judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union."