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West reawakens as Apple gets green light to build Athenry data centre
12 October 2017, 06:41 | Devin Moran
Mollie Spellman from Athenry during the rally in support of Apple’s Athenry data centre plans in the town on Sunday
It is been two years since Appleannounced plans to build two data centres in Europe - one in Denmark and one on Coillte owned lands in Athenry.
They claimed the Board's August 2016 permission for the development was invalid on grounds including alleged failure to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment. High Court Judge Paul McDermott cleared the way for the project to continue today by dismissing two separate appeals. The three objectors are, however, expected to appeal.
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).
Data Economy has requested Apple to comment on the court's ruling.
"It all points to a need to reform our planning laws so that important infrastructural development such as this do not get caught up in years of objections and appeal after appeal".
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.
Artists impression of proposed data centre.
The ongoing delays regarding the company's planning permission have led the national government to review its planning proposal scheme and put changes in place to fast track data centre projects which are crucial to build Ireland's future as an European data centre up-Tier city. Around the same time, thousands of people in Athenry marched in favour of the data centre.
Computer Weekly contacted Apple for a statement, seeking clarification on when it plans to begin the build, but had received no response at the time of publication.
Last month, news broke that Apple had reportedly told Irish authorities it could cancel its investment due to the ongoing delays, something the company was quick to react to cementing its commitment to build the data centre. The Apple Athenry case is a very good example of a planning system that in its current form is dysfunctional and can too easily be exploited.
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