Ireland ordered to pay over €5 million in wind farm court case

The Irish state has been ordered to pay pecuniary penalties to the amount of €5 million for failing to comply with a 2008 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that an environmental assessment be carried out in respect of a wind farm.

In addition, the state has been ordered to pay a periodic penalty payment of €15,000/day from the date of delivery of the judgement in the present case until the date of compliance with the 2008 judgement.

Announced in the European court today, Tuesday, November 12, the judgement was handed down as a result of the construction of a wind farm at Derrybrien, Co. Galway, without a prior environmental impact assessment having been carried out.

It was noted that, following the delivery of the 2008 judgement, Ireland has introduced a regularisation procedure to enable the operator of the Derrybrien wind farm to comply with the directive.

However, when the wind farm operator did not undergo the procedure, and the Irish authorities failed to initiate it, a second action was brought against the state, according to the court.

It was highlighted that member states are obliged to carry out an environmental impact assessment, even after a plant has begun operating, which “must take into account not only the future impact of the plant at issue, but also the environmental impact from the time of its completion”.

“Notwithstanding the legislative reform introducing a regularisation procedure, Ireland had failed to carry out a new environmental impact assessment of the wind farm, thereby failing to have regard to the authority attached to the 2008 judgement,” a court statement said.