The EU says it will continue to levy fines on Ireland over the Derrybrien Wind Farm until a European court judgment has been complied with.
This is in spite of the fact that An Bord Pleanála earlier this month refused to authorise planning for the 70-turbine wind farm run by an ESB subsidiary company in Co Galway.
The EU fines amounting to a lump sum of €5m and a daily fine of €15,000 plus legal costs were imposed by the European Court of Justice in November 2019.
The penalties were levied after it found Ireland had failed to comply with a previous court ruling in relation to the wind farm where a landslide occurred during construction in 2003.
Last November, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien told the Dáil that the European court judgment would be “complied with” when the Derrybrien Wind Farm was “subjected to a retrospective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – otherwise known as substitute consent”.
The minister said the ESB submitted a substitute consent application to An Bord Pleanála on August 21, 2020.
Ruling on this application earlier this month, An Bord Pleanála cited “significant effects on the environment” with “permanent residual effects that cannot be fully mitigated”.
However, the European Commission had indicated that the Bord Pleanála decision does not mean Ireland has complied with the European court judgment yet.
It says compliance “requires the development to undergo a remedial EIA, looking at all the impacts and mitigating against negative environmental impacts where these are identified”.
“The fines will stop once this process is completed. To date, this has not been done,” a Commission official told the Irish Independent.
Asked if the EU’s environment directorate thought the ruling meant the wind farm should be closed, the official said the European court of justice “did not state that the wind farm needed to be decommissioned”.
The Department of Housing has said the ruling is “under consideration”, and communication with the European Commission would take place “in due course” to determine the impact on the case against Ireland for non-compliance with the EIA directive.
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