Plan­ning de­lay a ‘black hole of bu­reau­cracy’; De­ci­sion met with de­light;

The Irish Times - - Front Page - PETER HAMIL­TON

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.

Threat

“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.

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