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Ireland pays €5m wind farm penalty - and still faces daily €15,000 fine

  

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Breach: Environmental impact was not assessed. Stock picture

Breach: Environmental impact was not assessed. Stock picture

Breach: Environmental impact was not assessed. Stock picture

Ireland has paid a €5m penalty imposed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to fulfil environmental regulations at the Derrybrien wind farm in Co Galway.

However, the State is still clocking up EU fines of €15,000 a day until an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the wind farm is carried out.

The €5m fine was imposed by the ECJ last year for failing to conduct an EIA on the wind farm in the Slieve Aughty mountains.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government confirmed the €5m was paid on January 24.

The court said the breach was an issue of "indisputable seriousness", given it had originally found against Ireland back in 2008 for the absence of an EIA.

Construction had started on the 70-turbine wind farm when a 2km-long landslide occurred in 2003, stripping large areas of forest and peat. Fish were killed and waterways polluted when an estimated half-a-million tonnes of peat and debris was displaced.

The department said the court judgment "will be resolved when the Derrybrien wind farm is subjected to retrospective environmental impact assessment (otherwise known as substitute consent)". It said the ESB has committed to submitting the wind farm "through the statutory substitute consent process as soon as possible".

Irish Independent