A cautionary tale from Derrybrien, Co Galway, and pointers for safeguards needed when similar developments are proposed for the United Kingdom —
A substantial bogslide took place at Hibernian Wind Power’s 71-tower wind farm at Derrybrien, Co Galway on 16 October 2003 when nearly half a million tonnes of peat, boulder clay and vegetation slumped from an area of felled plantation forest. Two weeks later, following heavy rainfall, a stream in spate churned the peat into a mobile slurry and cascaded it into the nearby Owendalulleegh river. This carried it a further 15km into Lough Cutra, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA).
There were no casualties or damage to private property but roads were closed and bridges put at risk. The local Fisheries Board estimated that 50,000 fish in the SAC were killed by the slide. Reports commissioned by the local authority and the developer both highlighted construction activity as the main cause of the bogslide and the site’s developer and contractor were fined for pollution offences.
Following intervention by local environmentalists, the European Union’s Environment Commissioner is now prosecuting the Irish government for breaches of Directives explicitly related to the case.
… the author argues that it is not possible to construct an environmentally valid case for any industrial development, whether for electricity generation or other purposes, on blanket bogs.
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