Counting the cost of non-compliance
- By Paul Sullivan
Those in the know will tell you that they are not windmills; they are wind turbines. You know what we mean, though. The residents of Derrybrien, Co. Galway certainly do.
In 2003, in the course of the construction of a 70-turbine wind farm in the Slieve Aughty mountains, there was a landslide which is believed to have killed up to 100,000 fish along a 10-mile stretch of water running to Lough Cutra.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held, in 2008, that Ireland had infringed Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
It became apparent that construction commenced without a prior environmental impact assessment having been carried out as required under the Directive. Although Ireland subsequently introduced a retrospective regularisation procedure, it was never actually implemented in respect of Derrybrien.
The CJEU recently revisited the issue. concluding that it was incumbent on the Member State ‘to take all measures necessary to remedy the failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment.’
Given the ‘seriousness and duration’ of the breach, the Court imposed a fine of €5 million with a further daily penalty of €15k until such times as the 2008 ruling is complied with.
At that price, the distinction with windmills will be all too apparent to the Irish taxpayer.
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