Low lie the hopes in Athenry: Apple decision pushed to October

27 Jul 2017

Apple. Image: thanat sasipatanapa/Shutterstock

The delayed decision on Apple’s plans for a data centre in Athenry has, fittingly, been delayed once more.

To build or not to build, that is the question. The answer will have to wait, though.

That’s because Apple’s much-delayed data centre near Athenry is still on hold as the Irish courts decide on complaints made against the proposal.

Future Human

After a couple of delays throughout the summer, today (27 July) was supposed to be the day we all found out Apple’s fate.

Danish twin

A ruling has now been listed for the next court term, which is scheduled to be given on 12 October. The €850m development remains on paper for now, with tangible work forced to wait until the outcome of the court proceedings.

To show the scale of the fallout from a decision, either way, we need look no further than Denmark.

Earlier this month, the Tim Cook-led company revealed plans to erect a new data centre in Denmark that would run entirely on renewable energy and cost around 6bn Danish Krone (€806m).

The new facility will be built near Denmark’s German border in an area called Aabenraa, and aims to be fully functional by Q2 in 2019. Meanwhile, the first Danish data centre Apple invested in is expected to go live this year, which was originally announced alongside the Athenry project.

Now, given that Denmark is to benefit from a second site, it’s possible to suggest that Ireland is missing out on the potential of a major investment due to the hold-up.

The data centres are to be host to popular Apple services such as iCloud, Apple Music, Siri and various e-commerce activities. The Athenry base, much like its Danish equivalents, will also be powered by renewable energy – if it goes ahead, that is.

Stopping and starting

There has been a series of stops and starts for Apple’s Irish plans. Concerns over flooding as well as potential threats to local wildlife such as bats were heard by An Bord Pleanála before the green light was given in August 2016.

However, by November, three objectors – two locals and one with an address in Wicklow – received permission to seek a full judicial review of the Apple decision by An Bord Pleanála.

Some locals then marched in support of the data centre. Apple begged for the process to be fast-tracked but here we are in mid-2017, none the wiser.

In related news, IDA Ireland recently appointed Jacobs Engineering Ireland to identify further strategic sites for the construction of large-scale data centres in various parts of the country.

Apple. Image: thanat sasipatanapa/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic