Plan­ning laws could be loos­ened af­ter de­lays put Ap­ple pro­ject at risk

Irish Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Doyle and Al­li­son Bray

PLAN­NING laws for data cen­tres could be loos­ened in light of the de­lays ex­pe­ri­enced by tech gi­ant Ap­ple in Gal­way.

This week it was warned that on­go­ing de­lays sur­round­ing the plan­ning process could put the en­tire €1bn pro­ject at risk.

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar met with ex­ec­u­tives from the com­pany to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

“They ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the legal and plan­ning de­lays that have de­layed that in­vest­ment,” he said.

How­ever, the Taoiseach said the com­pany re­mains com­mit­ted to the pro­ject, adding that he shares the frus­tra­tions be­cause the west of Ire­land needs jobs.

“One of the things that is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion is an amend­ment to the Strate­gic In­fra­struc­ture Act to treat data cen­tres as part of our strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture and en­able the plan­ning process to work more smoothly,” he said.

Mean­while, busi­ness group Ibec said the pro­tracted dis­pute “is a very good ex­am­ple of a plan­ning sys­tem that’s dys­func­tional”. Orla Casey, plan­ning and in­fra­struc­ture pol­icy ex­ec­u­tive for Ibec, said the sys­tem “can too eas­ily be ex­ploited”. She told the Ir­ish

In­de­pen­dent that “ul­ti­mately it’s a worry that if this isn’t rec­ti­fied, you’ll see projects go else­where. There is also rep­u­ta­tional dam­age to Ire­land” .

She said the ob­jec­tion process can lead to end­less de­lays that can ul­ti­mately doom a pro­ject. “With every de­lay it re­duces the vi­a­bil­ity of the scheme,” she said.

“We want Ire­land to be an at­trac­tive place to in­vest, but the plan­ning process is a black hole of bu­reau­cracy.”

Ap­ple chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Cook

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