Calls for Derrybrien wind farm to be reactivated rejected

ESB facility an ‘unauthorised development’

A junior Government minister has rejected calls for the 70 turbine wind farm at Derrybrien in south Galway to be reactivated.

In a Dáil debate on the issue, Fine Gael Minister for State at the Departmentt of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, described the ESB wind farm as an “unauthorised development”.

Minister Naughton told Deputy Michael McNamara that “any attempt to keep the wind farm operational would, therefore, be unlawful”.

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“There is no legal basis for Derrybrien’s continued operation,” she said.

In February of this year the ESB paused operations at the wind farm after An Bord Pleanála refused a “substitute consent” for the windfarm and all works in response to a 2003 peat-slide event at the site.

On March 16th, 2022, ESB confirmed that it had decided to close the Derrybrien wind farm on a permanent basis and decommission the renewable energy project.

The State has already been subject to a fine of €5 million concerning infringement proceedings and also daily fines of €15,000 until the terms of the judgment were met.

Minister Naughton said it was the Government’s view that “the An Bord Pleanála decision and the acceptance of the ESB of this decision and its stated intention to decommission Derrybrien brings the State into compliance with the original judgment”.

Minister Naughton said that the full impact of the closure of Derrybrien wind farm had been considered.

“There are limited global and European energy policy arguments to be made for the continued operation of Derrybrien. There are no substantive arguments to be made from a domestic security of supply perspective. Any attempts to retain the wind farm in operation would face planning and legal obstacles.” she said.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times