Derrybrien Wind Farm
The ESB is to decommission the Derrybrien Wind Farm in south county Galway.
Via RTE News:
The decision follows more than two decades of controversy over the planning process for the 70-turbine site on the Slieve Aughty mountains.
Last month, An Bord Pleanála has refused the ESB’s application for substitute consent for the development.
The ESB had sought retrospective compliance with an EU directive, but the planning board ruled that the damage caused by the wind farm was “clear, profound and unacceptable” and could not be fully mitigated.
In 2003, a boggy hilltop near Derrybrien in south Galway was clear-felled of 200 hectares of forestry and peat extracted from it up to a depth of 5.5 meters. 17 kilometers of roads were laid and 71 turbine bases constructed as the foundations for a wind-farm built and owned by Hibernian Wind Power, a subsidiary of the ESB.
On 16 October, 2003, a massive landslide sent 450,000 cubic meters of peat down the hillside, polluting the Owendalulleegh River, resulting in the death of around 50,000 fish and lasting damage to the fish spawning beds. No environmental impact assessment had been conducted before the establishment of the wind-farm.
On 3 July, 2008, The European Court of Justice (the ECJ) ruled that an environmental impact assessment should be carried out, not merely as proper practice but as a legal obligation. In its pleadings before the Court, the European Commission pointed out and the Irish Government accepted that the landslide was linked to the construction work at the wind farm. The Government committed to comply with this ruling.
A decade passed during which three things happened.
First, plenty of helpful reminders from Europe to Ireland of the need to get on with it.
Second, a certain amount of leisurely paper shuffling and buck passing in Dublin between the “Department”, the ESB and its subsidiary, but no action.
Third, growing awareness among south Galway residents that the negative environmental impact of the wind-farm was not confined to the once-off landslide. The clearance of the hill top to facilitate the wind-farm and the 30 kilometers of deep drains dug into the mountain to keep the site dry has exacerbated the endemic flooding of their area by causing water to flow down the hill faster than before.
Pic: An Bord Pleanala