May 21, 2022

Environmental campaigners complain to EC over last-gasp efforts to retain Windfarm

By Denise McNamara | Connacht Tribune | May 21, 2022 |

Campaigners against the Derrybrien Windfarm have hit out at local politicians vying to retain the development after two decades of breaching planning laws.

They have sent a letter to the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission which includes articles published in the Connacht Tribune detailing the debates in Galway County Council about the issue, which they say highlights the local authority’s lack of “credibility in respect of exercising their supervisory jurisdiction”.

Martin Collins of the Friends of Derrybrien Environment declared it akin to “appearing on the pitch when the game has been played because you don’t like the result”.

“It is an extremely long-winding saga but at the end of the day, we’ve reached a point, after 20 years, that’s the end of the legal road,” he exclaimed

“For councillors or TDs to think they can overthrow all that history and just keep it running away – it’s just not legally possible. Even the ESB and the Government have accepted it must come down. We just have to accept the reality of things, the facts, figures and the law are there.”

Galway County Councillors sent a motion to the Government urging it to direct the ESB to recommence operation of the windfarm and enact legislation to protect it from further legal challenge. That motion was later echoed by Deputy Sean Canney in the Dáil.

The original European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision handed down in 2008 declared the 70-turbine windfarm an unauthorised development as the proper safeguards had not been followed during its construction in 2003 when a major bog slide occurred. When nothing was done to remove it, the ECJ fined the State €5 million over its failure to comply with EU legislation and set an additional daily fine of €15,000 until it did. Those fines are estimated to have reached around €19m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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