The decommissioning of Derrybrien wind farm “must not be allowed to go ahead”, independent member of Galway County Council, councillor Geraldine Donohue has said.
Councillor Donohue raised the matter with Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan during his recent visit (Friday, May 13) in Co. Galway.
She asked the minister, departments and the European counterparts to come and visit the site out of respect to the people of the locality. The councillor added:
“We are not talking about boiling a kettle here, we are talking about powering 55,000 homes; Ireland will be laughing stock of the world if this decommissioning is allowed to go ahead.”
In March, the ESB confirmed the decommissioning of the wind farm, following the decision of An Bord Pleanála not to grant retrospective planning permission.
The board said that remedial works carried out at the site could not mitigate the environmental impact which, it said, was “clear, profound and unacceptable”.
Minister Ryan told the councillor that he had sought to get a derogation from Europe, however, he was told by the attorney general on May 5, that there was “no legal mechanism”.
Previously, a spokesperson for ESB told Agriland that the decommissioning means that all 70 wind turbines will be dismantled and removed from the site.
A process will have to be gone through to complete the decommissioning, which, the spokesperson said, will take a number of months.
Councillor Donohue, who recently visited the site, said she is deeply concerned over land slippage, if decommissioning is granted, due to the equipment on the site. She commented:
“A number of jobs are at risk and the environment has recovered. At the end of the day, it is merely a piece of legislative paper that is stopping these wind turbines from turning, which have been turned off since.”
Local broadband comes from a mast on the wind farm and is powered by turbine number 25, which is also home to emergency radio services, according to the councillor.
“If decommissioned, a diesel-guzzling generator will have to be used to run these services which is contradictory in itself, prone to breakdowns and theft,” she added.
Derrybrien wind farm
Full planning permission was given by Galway County Council prior to the construction of the wind farm over 19 years ago, according to the councillor.
In 2003, there was a major landslide as the wind farm was being constructed by Gort Windfarms Ltd, which had “significant effects on the environment”.
In November 2019, Ireland was fined €5 million in the European Court of Justice for the state’s failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment at the site.
The wind farm operated safely during its operation phase over the past 17 years, and what happened in the construction phase in 2003 has now “regenerated itself”, Councillor Donohue said.