The State has amassed additional fines of over €5m as a result of an ongoing failure to ensure proper environmental standards were adhered to at a wind farm in Galway.
Daily fines of €15,000 have been mounting since last November, when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled against Ireland, in relation to the Derrybrien wind farm in south Co Galway.
As well as a one-off penalty of €5m, which was paid last January, a further €5.5m is now owed.
The fines will continue to accrue until the situation is resolved, in line with the court’s ruling.
It found that Ireland was in breach of environmental safeguards in relation to the construction of the wind farm, almost 20 years ago.
The court ruled that Ireland must comply with a 2008 instruction to properly examine the consequences of the development at Derrybrien.
The case centred on long-standing concern about the impact of the 70-turbine development on the Slieve Aughty mountains.
The wind farm was built and is operated by a subsidiary company owned by the ESB.
During the construction phase in 2003, a massive landslide occurred, pushing thousands of cubic metres of peat down the mountain.
Last November’s ruling by the European court cannot be appealed, as it was the final stage in lengthy proceedings against Ireland.
In August, the ESB submitted an application for Substitute Consent to An Bord Pleanála. The company says it will not comment further while the application is being considered.
The CJEU’s fines, amounting to €105,000 every week, will not be lifted until the ESB completes a retrospective environmental impact assessment (EIA) at the development.
The CJEU ruling said the breaches of environmental standards were a matter of “indisputable seriousness”. The court said the Irish response had been delayed, insufficient and unjustified.
Last July, Galway County Council told the ESB to seek Substitute Consent, which is effectively retrospective compliance with the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessments.
This can only be granted in exceptional circumstances and means the State has to take measures to ensure the development is subject to robust assessment.
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