Europe seeks €2m fines over Derrybrien windfarm

The European Commission is to bring Ireland back to the EU Court of Justice over issues connected to the Derrybrien windfarm, as well as seeking to impose almost €2m in fines.

The commission said it is bringing the action over what it claims is Ireland’s failure to comply with a previous EU court judgement by not properly carrying out an environmental impact assessment at the Co Galway windfarm.

The Derrybrien windfarm was one of the largest in Europe when it was built in 2003, but was quickly hit by controversy due to a large landslide at the site later the same year.

The European Commission said yesterday it was seeking to bring Ireland back before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) because it claims it had not complied with a previous court judgement of July 3, 2008 (C-215/06, Commission v Ireland).

In a statement yesterday the European Commission said no sufficient impact assessment has been carried out at Derrybrien and that it is required under EU rules.

“The scale of the development and its sensitive moorland hilltop location means that its 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.

“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 windfarm — the largest in Ireland, and, at the time of judgment, one of the largest in the EU. 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 commission has asked the CJEU to impose a minimum lump sum payment of €1.685m on Ireland as well as proposing a daily penalty payment of €12,264 if full compliance is not achieved by the date when the court issues its ruling.

In response, the Department of Housing said: “The Irish authorities have been in regular communication with Commission on this matter and remain absolutely committed to ensuring that an appropriate environmental review takes place.

“In this respect, the Irish authorities had recently submitted an agreed national programme for this purpose. Ireland has requested Commission agreement in principle to the outlined schedule of work. The Irish authorities have yet to receive a response.

“The programme of work can be swiftly implemented, on receipt of commission views. Ireland will continue to liaise with the commission authorities to resolve this matter in a timely and satisfactory manner.”


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