The State has reached agreement with the European Commission to cease daily fines of €15,000 relating to an ESB-owned wind farm in Co Galway.

The sanctions were imposed as a result of Ireland's failure to ensure environmental standards were upheld at the Derrybrien Wind Farm on the Slieve Aughty mountains.

Despite the deal to end the financial penalties, the State will have paid more than €17 million to the commission, due to the breaches.

Operations at Derrybrien ceased this time last year, after An Bord Pleanála refused an application for substitute consent at the site. Essentially this meant the project was considered an unauthorised development.

The planning board found the scale of the damage caused by the wind farm to the Slieve Aughty mountains was "clear, profound and unacceptable" and that it could not be mitigated.

The ESB had applied for retrospective permission for the 70-turbine site, after the European Union’s Court of Justice found Ireland had failed to ensure proper environmental checks were carried out, during the planning process, over 20 years ago.

The company subsequently announced that it would decommission the site.

The Court of Justice imposed a one-off financial sanction of €5 million on Ireland in November 2019, and ordered that daily penalties of €15,000 be paid, until such time as the breaches were rectified.

The Government has been in discussions with the European Commission for a number of months in an effort to close the infringement case against the State.

It argued that a retrospective environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Derrybrien development meant the court’s judgements had been complied with. On this basis, it sought to stop the imposition of the €15,000 daily fine.

The State has already paid out a total of almost €16 million in fines, as a result of the failures identified at Derrybrien. The last payment was made in November 2021.

A final instalment of daily fines, covering the period from 13 November 2021 to 4 February 2022, will now be paid. The final sum due to be paid is €1,245,000.

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In a statement, the Department of Housing said it had reached agreement with the commission that once these penalties are paid over, the file in relation to the matter will be closed.

When fully operational, Derrybrien had the potential to generate around 60 megawatts of power, equating to around 1% of the country's current wind energy output.

The department says Galway County Council has a planning enforcement role in relation to the unauthorised development.

The ESB has said it is preparing to decommission the site in line with planning laws and regulations.