Planning delay a ‘black hole of bureaucracy’; Decision met with delight;
Apple, the company at the heart of the legal challenge, was silent following the outcome of the ruling by Mr Justice Paul McDermott. The US tech giant had warned previously that the Athenry project could be shelved if it were subject to further delays.
While welcoming the decision that paves the way for construction of Apple’s ¤850 million data centre in Athenry, business representative bodies and politicians criticised the delays in the planning process and are calling for reform.
Chambers Ireland said “spurious attempts to undermine the State’s planning processes and bodies should no longer be tolerated”.
The chamber pointed out that an Apple data centre in Denmark is nearing completion, having been announced at the same time as the Athenry project.
Chamber chief executive Ian Talbot said: “Cases such as this cause reputational damage on an international scale and directly threaten the likelihood of foreign direct investment companies choosing Ireland as a destination.”
The issue of reputational damage was picked up by Minister of State Seán Kyne, a TD for the Galway-West constituency. Mr Kyne said that while the court ruling was “great news for Athenry and the country”, the delays have caused “some loss of reputation internationally”.
Mr Kyne’s Dáil colleague, Independent Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice, called for a review of the planning appeals process.
“In light of the time that it took to arrive at this decision, we will have to take a critical look at this whole process,” he said. “The way it stands it is far too slow and is a threat to employment and the economy in general.”
Other critics included Ibec, who called it a “black hole of bureaucracy”.
Órla Casey, an executive at the business lobby group, warned that delays such as those in the Apple Athenry case meant we could see these projects go elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, high-profile cases like this might amplify the perception that Ireland is a difficult place to do business. There are plenty of examples of both public and private projects being derailed due to inbuilt flaws in the planning system,” she said.