Apple’s Irish data centre threatened with 18-month delay via local objections
Mon 24 Oct 2016
Apple is reported to have ‘serious concerns’ about a possible 18-month delay for the construction of its new €850 million data centre in County Galway, after local residents challenged the decision of Ireland’s planning board to grant the go-ahead to the project.
Local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, who have participated in prior objections to the new site, have now launched an ex-parte application for a judicial review on the decision by An Bord Pleanála to allow construction to go ahead. The High Court has granted a full hearing for the objection, beginning on November 8th. If the application is successful, the matter could go to full judicial review, and a delay of up to 18 months.
The data centre, set for establishment at the medieval town of Athenry, has already been held up since its announcement in February of 2015. In May of this year Apple also had to fend off concerns about the data centre’s proximity to nuclear installations in Wales and Cumbria.
The build is intended to power a significant tranche of the company’s European services, including its App Store, Maps and iTunes data storage needs.
Initial objections to the Athenry site meant a six-month delay after the announcement before the county council granted the permit in spite of objections from local residents about the environmental impact of the build – including increased flood risks, diminution of space for amenities and impact on local flowers and wildlife.
At 24,500sqm the Athenry installation would be Apple’s biggest data centre in Europe, and funding for it is part of a larger €1.7 billion investment involving a similar build in Denmark. The Danish DC is currently under construction as its Irish counterpart languishes in the Irish judicial system.
Among other misgivings expressed by Fitzpatrick are the potential excessive power consumption of the Athenry data centre, and together with her co-plaintiff she comments that Apple’s plant “shows disregard for regional and local planning policy . . . The development is not of strategic importance and is not supported by regional policy.”
As is customary, the incoming company, in this case Apple, is lauding the temporary employment that the site, which takes in over 500 acres of greenfield, would bring to the building industry, and Apple promises an unusually high permanent staff count of 150 personnel after completion.