West reawakens as Apple gets green light to build Athenry data centre

West reawakens as Apple gets green light to build Athenry data centre

Apple has today won a 2-year-long court battle granting the company the necessary permission to build a $1bn data centre in Galway, Ireland.

Work was due to get underway this year but the project was delayed due to a legal challenge to its planning permission.

When the project was announced, Apple said it meant to spend €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) on a data centre in Ireland and another in Denmark, with each one costing €850 million (£762 million).

Apple had sought to have the cases fast-tracked in the Commercial Court, the big business division of the High Court, saying it was very anxious to proceed with the development.

The court refused a second challenge, pursued by local businessman Brian McDonagh about the project's conservation impacts on the area, and described it as "without substance" in the full 18-page judgment seen by Computer Weekly.

The project has proved hugely divisive in the town of Athenry, with supporters hailing the economic benefits of having a company like Apple set up shop there, while objectors have repeatedly raised environmental concerns about the build.

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Apple wants to build the data centre in this forest.Business Insider/Sam SheadApple wants to build eight data halls on a 500-acre site in Derrydonnell Forest, which is owned by state-sponsored forestry firm Coillte, and situated roughly three miles from Athenry.

The data centre is expected to cost €850 million (£762 million) and create over 100 new jobs.

"We (Irish) now need to tweak the planning process to include a time certainty to this process not just for Data Centres but for all large capital intense infrastructure projects".

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met Apple executives last month and said they had made clear their frustration with the planning and judicial delays and warned the process would colour decisions that they might make about future investments.

Galway County Council granted permission in Sept 2015 but that was appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

"Today's decision has been a great decision for Athenry and the whole west of Ireland", he said. Planning approval was quickly granted before objections were lodged on environmental grounds.

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