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Important Bill to keep Derrybrien Wind Farm Operational

Seanad Éireann Passes First Stage of Legislation to Keep Derrybrien Wind Farm Operational

Statement by Senator Michael McDowell

Date: 14th December 2023

I was delighted that Seanad Éireann this morning passed the first stage of an important legislative initiative, the Special Measures in the Public Interest (Derrybrien Wind Farm) Bill 2023. This Bill will ensure that the wind farm at Derrybrien which, when operational, can power 30,000 homes, will not be dismantled and scrapped.

Instead, the Bill provides that the ESB will be stripped of its interest in the wind farm built through its subsidiary Gort Windfarms Ltd and that this important piece of national infrastructure will be transferred without compensation to the Western Development Commission to operate for the remainder of its economic life.

At a time when the ESB is using Colombian coal at Moneypoint to generate electricity and when the government is also installing diesel-powered emergency generation stations to prevent brownouts and blackouts, it would be a huge national scandal to destroy the Derrybrien Wind Farm.

The Bill prohibits the County Council from requiring the destruction of the wind farm.

The provisions of the Bill are completely in line with European law, which requires that those who build major infrastructure without complying with their environmental impact obligations cannot benefit from their own illegality.

That does not mean that vital environmentally friendly energy infrastructure must be destroyed in the middle of an energy crisis.

In the meantime, I am calling on the ESB to ensure that maintenance at the wind farm is resumed and to cooperate with the transfer of the wind farm to the Western Development Commission, who will use the income to finance important environmental projects, including peatland conservation, and local and community projects for the Derrybrien community.

I want to thank Dr Brian Hunt, a skilled parliamentary draftsman, for all his hard work in helping me to prepare this legislation.

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