The European Commission is taking Ireland back to the EU Court of Justice for its failure to not properly carry out an environmental impact assessment for the largest wind farm in Ireland.
Ireland could face a €1.6m fine from the EU Court of Justice for its failure to properly carry out an environmental impact assessment for the Derrybrien wind farm in Co Galway.
Although the Derrybrien wind farm was constructed already more than 13 years ago, no sufficient impact assessment has been carried out, according to the European Commission which has taken the issue back to the Court.
Impact assessments of certain public and private projects on the environment are required under the EU rules before construction is allowed to commence.
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 the Commission has said 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, among others, that Ireland had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the 70-turbine wind farm – 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 5.5m deep on the top of the Cashlaundrumlahan Mountain, causing a 2km environmentally devastating landslide in October 2003.
The Commission is requesting the Court of Justice of the EU imposes a minimum lump sum payment of €1,685,000.00 (€1,343.20 per day).
The Commission is also proposing a daily penalty payment of €12,264.00, 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.
Under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), if a member state has not taken the necessary measures to comply with a judgment of the Court of Justice, as is the case in the Derrybrien wind farm, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
The decision on a second referral to the Court of Justice on the basis of Article 260 of the treaty must always be accompanied by a proposal for a penalty and/or lump sum payment.
Rulings by the court are binding on all EU member states as well as on the EU institutions themselves.
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