Athenry objectors to Apple data centre apply to Supreme Court

5 Dec 2017

Apple store in Cologne. Image: r.classen/Shutterstock

It looks like the Apple data centre project in Athenry has hit yet another snag.

The saga of the €850m Apple data centre in Co Galway has taken another turn as two local Athenry residents have applied to the Supreme Court to bring about an appeal over the rejection of their challenge to the proposed project.

Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly were refused permission by the High Court to appeal its decision in November. In October, the court ruled against the application lodged by the objectors to overturn the permission previously granted by An Bord Pleanála for Apple to build the data centre in Athenry.

Planning issues

The objectors argued that the board did not carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed development, and that concerns around the energy demands of such a large project were not adequately addressed.

According to RTÉ, Justice Paul McDermott was not satisfied that the “arguments constituted a point of law of exceptional public importance, or that it should be the subject of an appeal in the public interest”.

It is likely that this new application will be opposed by both the planning authorities and Apple. Court members will meet to consider the documents from both sides of the argument, and this will be followed by a published decision on whether or not the appeal will be permitted.

If the Supreme Court decides there is basis for a full hearing, the process could take at least six months.

Apple and Athenry’s story is not close to over

Construction of the data centre previously promised 300 temporary positions, with 150 permanent staff required to run the facility near Derrydonnell Woods, close to Athenry, once complete.

A spokesperson from Apple For Athenry described the situation as “regrettable”, adding: “It is even more regrettable that the objectors have not taken into consideration the will of the vast majority of the locality of the community and of the people of Ireland in general.”

The Government recently announced that data centres will in future be considered strategic infrastructure in terms of the planning process, meaning applicants will bypass the need to ask for permission from the local authority and instead go directly to An Bord Pleanála, thus avoiding some of the delays experienced by Apple.

Apple store in Cologne. Image: r.classen/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects