November 16, 2020
Derrybrien Windfarm Financial Scandal Must Be Addressed Urgently – MacManus & O’Hara

Derrybrien Windfarm Financial Scandal Must Be Addressed Urgently – MacManus & O’Hara 

Sinn Féin Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus and Galway East Sinn Féin spokesperson Louis O’Hara have criticized the ongoing financial scandal of taxpayers’ money being squandered on fines relating to Derrybrien Windfarm.

 The Sinn Féin representatives called on Government to address the issue as a matter of urgency. MacManus said: “In November 2019, Ireland was fined five million euros in the European Court of Justice for the state’s failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment at Derrybrien Windfarm and a further €15,000 a day until the situation is resolved. It is now over a year since the EU Court ruling and we are still no closer to a solution to this issue. One year on and Ireland has been fined nearly eleven million euros and rising.” 

The Midlands Northwest MEP described the issue as ‘shocking’, 

“Last November’s ruling was the final stage in lengthy proceedings against the State, which have been ongoing since 2008. As we are now twelve years further on, it is shocking that successive governments have failed to address the issue.” 

“In August of this year, an ESB subsidiary lodged an application with An Bord Pleanála for substitute consent, which allows for retrospective applications in exceptional circumstances where there has been no environmental assessment.”

 “However, a month previously in July, the Supreme Court ruled that substitute consent is invalid under EU environmental law, because it lacks several key factors that a proper Environmental Impact Assessment must include, such as public participation allowing key stakeholders to input into the process. It was being used as a means of avoiding the issue rather than fulfilling our environmental obligations.” 

MacManus’s party colleague Louis O’Hara said: “It is mind-boggling that the State should choose to proceed with an application for substitute consent when it has recently been ruled invalid. It is almost certain that the application will fail on this basis and it appears to be an attempt to kick the can down the road. In the meantime, fines will continue to build up and eat into public finances.”

The Galway native said, “This is an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money, especially given that the State has had since 2008 to resolve the issue. €10.5 million would go a long way towards addressing the housing and health crises and tackling the huge levels of inequality that exist in this country. Instead, that money is disappearing into a black hole that the State appears to have no intention of addressing.” 

“Successive Governments have been guilty of sitting on their hands with regards to this issue, and we should have had government intervention a long time ago. Now that it is clear that the ESB and their subsidiary are only interested in kicking the can down the road, the current Government must act urgently to address this scandal.” 

O’Hara concluded, “The EU Court Ruling has been ignored for a year now, but it is the end of a lengthy legal process and cannot be appealed so this issue is going nowhere. Government must intervene and require that a proper environmental assessment be carried out or an alternative solution be found as it is clear the current approach is destined for failure.” ENDS

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