Ob­jec­tors may ap­peal Ap­ple’s data cen­tre

The Irish Times - - Front Page - LORNA SIGGINS West­ern Cor­re­spon­dent

Ob­jec­tors to Ap­ple’s plans for a data cen­tre near Athenry in east Gal­way are con­sid­er­ing whether to ap­peal the Com­mer­cial Court rul­ing which paves the way for the first phase of the ¤850 mil­lion project.

In sep­a­rate judg­ments yes­ter­day, Mr Jus­tice Paul McDer­mott re­jected two judicial review chal­lenges to the planned data hall at Der­ry­don­nell, Athenry – the first of eight such halls Ap­ple may build over 15 years on a 500-acre site.

Re­ject­ing ar­gu­ments that the first data hall was a de­vel­op­ment that could only prop­erly be con­sid­ered as part of the over­all mas­ter plan, Mr Jus­tice McDer­mott held that the hall can op­er­ate on a stand­alone ba­sis, and can go ahead ir­re­spec­tive of fu­ture pro­pos­als for the site.

Nei­ther Ap­ple nor the par­ties seek­ing the judicial re­views made any public com­ment yes­ter­day. An ap­peal has not been ruled out, and ob­jec­tors were said to be study­ing the judge­ment last night.

Athenry res­i­dents who sup­port the project, along with busi­ness groups , wel­comed the de­ci­sion. Min­is­ter of State Seán Kyne, a TD for the Gal­way-West con­stituency, said while the court rul­ing was “great news for Athenry and the coun­try”, the de­lays had caused “some loss of rep­u­ta­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally”.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, Ap­ple first an­nounced its plans to con­struct the data cen­tre as one of two in Europe on a site at Der­ry­don­nell woods, ac­quired from Coillte for an undis­closed sum.

Gal­way County Coun­cil ap­proved the plan in Septem­ber, 2015, and this was ap­pealed to An Bord Pleanála, which gave plan­ning per­mis­sion with more con­di­tions in Au­gust 2016.

A con­cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tion for the con­struc­tion of a 220kV sub­sta­tion and a grid con­nec­tion was sub­mit­ted di­rectly to the ap­peals board and ap­proved.

The large en­ergy re­quire­ments of data cen­tres and the need for an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment of all eight pro­posed data halls were cen­tral to the judicial review sought by lo­cal res­i­dents Al­lan Daly and Sinead Fitz­patrick, while a sep­a­rate review was taken by Brian McDon­agh, Unit 1, Bal­ly­mount Cross Busi­ness Park, Dublin.

The par­ties have been given just four days to con­sider Mr Jus­tice McDer­mott’s rul­ings, and are due back be­fore him on Mon­day to con­firm whether they in­tend to seek per­mis­sion to ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

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The par­ties are due back on Mon­day to con­firm whether they in­tend to seek per­mis­sion to ap­peal the de­ci­sion

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JOE O’SHAUGH­NESSY

Cel­e­bra­tions in Athenry yes­ter­day on hear­ing the Ap­ple data cen­tre de­ci­sion.

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