Legislation aimed at rescuing the troubled Derrybrien wind farm in Co Galway from being dismantled was rejected by Senators in the Seanad this week.

The special measures in the public interest (Derrybrien wind farm) bill 2023, introduced last year, aimed to prevent the decommissioning of the multimillion-euro wind farm.

The proposed legislation reached its second stage in the Seanad this week.

The development, located in southern Galway with its 70 turbines, was once the country's largest wind farm and has the capacity to power 30,000 homes at full operation.


The wind farm became subject of national focus in 2003 following a significant peat slide in the vicinity, leading to extensive pollution and the death of approximately 50,000 fish.

The European Court of Justice later found that the wind farm was built without a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA), resulting in the European Commission imposing a €5m fine on Ireland, along with daily fines of €15,000 for continued operation.

To date, environmental law neglect has cost taxpayers approximately €17m in fines.

The wind farm kept operating and generating electricity until spring 2022, when An Bord Pleanála rejected a request for substitute consent, with fines for the site exceeding €20m by that time.


Initially built by Gort Windfarms - a subsidiary of the ESB - a significant point in the EU judgements against the wind farm is that no organisation should profit from a development which was constructed without proper environmental assessments.

The proposed legislation aimed to change the wind farm's ownership from the ESB to the Western Development Commission, which would then manage its operations.

The bill was defeated, with only six votes in favour and 19 against.