The Court of Justice of the European Union (‘’CJEU’’) has fined the State €5m for its failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment (‘’EIA’’) in respect of the 70 turbine Derrybrien windfarm in Co. Galway. The State was ordered to carry out an EIA on the development over a decade ago following the ruling in 2008 in Commission v Ireland C-215/06
The State has also been ordered to pay a further €15,000 a day for every day the judgment remains unimplemented.
In October 2003, a landslide at the wind farm caused severe damage to the local river systems, resulting in significant fish kill, affected the nearby water supply and impacted agriculture in the area.
Following this, the local community presented a report to the European Commission in 2004, ultimately resulting in the 2008 judgment of the CJEU where it found that Ireland had infringed EU law by granting permission for the windfarm without a prior EIA having been carried out.
In response, the State enacted the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010. Part XA of this Act, in particular Sections 177B and 177C, provides for the regularisation of development consents granted in breach of an obligation to conduct an EIA (“the substitute consent procedure).
Despite the State’s attempts to regularise the wind farms compliance with the EIA Directive through the above procedure, the Commission determined that the State had failed to carry out the required assessment and the matter recently came back before the CJEU.
Arguments of the State
The State argued:
The CJEU held that:
The Court clarified that the EIA conducted now must take into account not only the future impact of the wirndfarm but all the environmental impact from the time of its completion.
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