Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, welcomed today's High Court ruling allowing the Athenry Apple datacentre project to proceed. However, by November a year ago, three objectors - local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, and Wicklow landowner Brian McDonagh - received permission to seek a full judicial review of the Apple decision by An Bord Pleanála.
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. The three objectors are, however, expected to appeal.
One of the biggest capital investment projects earmarked for the west of Ireland, the centre is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 150 permanent on-site jobs.
Apple first announced plans to construct the data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell Woods near the Co Galway town in February 2015.
"The planning process itself in Ireland is transparent, open and like in any effective and functioning democracy gives citizens the right to comment and provide inputs".
The project, originally announced in 2015, was challenged by three objectors who put forward a review request to the An Bord Pleanála, an independent, statutory, quasi-judicial body that decides on appeals from planning decisions made by local authorities in Ireland. The Irish government is now considering amending its planning laws to include certain data centers as strategic infrastructure, in order to push them through the planning process more quickly.
Artists impression of proposed data centre. Around the same time, thousands of people in Athenry marched in favour of the data centre.
The company recently announced that it will build a second data center in that country as well, Reuters noted. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar held talks with Apple executives last month, who warned the delay could influence future investment decisions.