Government wants to let Apple and others fast-track planning permissions

25 Sep 2017

Apple logo. Image: AR Pictures/Shutterstock

The Government is hoping to prevent any more planning-permission delays for Silicon Valley’s biggest firms with a new fast-track application process.

Ireland has done much to woo Apple, Facebook, Google et al to Irish shores with promises of a low corporate tax rate, but now the Government has plans to make it even easier for them to get planning permission.

The incentive to do so comes after Apple found itself facing delay after delay with regard to its €850m Athenry data centre.

Despite receiving approval from An Bord Pleanála in August, legal challenges from locals concerned about environmental damage to the area have seen planning permission blocked on several occasions.

The delays have frustrated Apple to the point that the company is threatening to pull out of the deal.

Now, according to the Irish Independent, the Government is hoping to win over Tim Cook and Apple’s management with new legislation that would effectively fast-track any applications made by companies of Apple’s stature.

Developed by the Department of Enterprise in collaboration with the Data Protection Commissioner, the legislation is set to go before the High Court on 12 October in what Data Protection Minister Pat Breen, TD, has said will “ensure Ireland remains an attractive investment option for multinationals seeking to construct data centres here”.

He added: “In any planning procedure, all sides with input to a proposed project must be respected and listened to before a final decision is made.

“However, there is no reason why this process cannot happen at a quicker pace while respecting all contributions to a planned project.”

The High Court ruling will come around the same time that the final decision on Apple’s planning approval is set to be announced some time in mid-October.

Apple logo. Image: AR Pictures/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic