Derrybrien wind farm case shows ‘abject failure’ by Government

The Government has been heavily criticised for not adhering to a 2008 ruling from the European Court of Justice, which has resulted in a judgement against the state in the amount to €5 million.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of environmental groups, said that it welcomed the decision by the court of justice, and that the ruling indicates an “abject failure” on the part of Government.

The judgement, announced today, Tuesday, November 12, relates to Derrybrien wind farm in south Co. Galway. In 2008, the state was ordered by the court to carry out an environmental assessment on the wind farm, which apparently never took place.

That 2008 judgement found significant EU law failures by Ireland in respect of the Derrybrien wind farm where the circumstances of that development and associated flawed decisions by public authorities and the state led to catastrophic consequences for the local communities and the environment.

As well as the €5 million sum, the state will also be forced to pay a “daily penalty” of €15,000 from the date of the judgement (today, November 12), until such a date as the 2008 judgment is complied with.

The Environmental Pillar has argued that the judgement today is “even more significant in terms of what it highlights about Ireland’s deeper failures”.

“The court’s binding ruling marks not just a further stain on the Irish state’s environmental record, but constitutes yet another landslide in terms of criticism levelled at the state’s handling of this case, and its failures to understand and apply what needed to be done following on from the original [2008] judgement,” the organisation said in a statement.

The 2008 ruling ordered the assessment after a landslide at the wind farm in 2003 blocked roads and affected the water supply to the Gort area, as well as causing other damage.

Karen Ciesielski, the coordinator of the Environmental Pillar, said: “It’s been over 15 years since the ecologically devastating landslide of October 2003, which could have been avoided if a proper assessment had been undertaken.

“We hope that the fines will act as a big wake-up call for our Government. However, any fines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to expenses incurred by the Irish people for environmental damage in our country,” she claimed.

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