Substitute consent refused for controversial Derrybrien wind farm

Galway Daily news Planning refused for Connemara wind farm development

An Bord Pleanála has refused substitute consent for the controversial Derrybrien wind farm, which is currently being fined €15,000 a day.

The 70 turbine wind farm in the northern Slieve Aughty Mountains suffered a severe landslide in 2003 while under construction.

This destroyed vast areas of forest and peat, and polluted waterways, killing large numbers of fish.

In 2019, the wind farm was found to be in breach of environmental regulations by the EU Court of Justice.

A €5 million fine was imposed by the court for the failure to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment before construction.

Further fines of €15,000 a day were also ordered by the court so long as it was non-compliant, building to a bill of more than €17 million in total.

The ESB, owner of the wind farm, sought substitute consent for the wind farm from An Bord Pleanála.

Substitute consent is a retroactive form of planning permission allowing developers to regularise permission for projects that are deemed to not be compliant with EU law.

In making its decision to refuse this application, An Bord Pleanála said that it was “not satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist that would justify the grant of substitute consent”.

The specific reason for this was the “significant effects on the environment which occurred as a consequence of the 2003 peat slide”.

Remedial works incorporated into the construction after the peat slide “does not fully mitigate the significant environmental effects” which occurred in the event.

The Board said that there are “significant permanent residual effects” that cannot be fully mitigated. The residual environmental impact would preclude granting substitute consent.