A computer-generated image of Apple's first Irish data
12 October, 2017, 18:01
Apple may proceed to build a 850 million euro ($1 billion) data center in Ireland, the High Court ruled on Thursday, bringing relief for the government after a two-year planning delay which it feared could hurt its reputation with investors.
A number of local residents challenged An Bord Pleanála's decision amid concerns it hadn't carried out the necessary environmental assessment.
High Court judge Paul McDermott dismissed the appeals brought by three campaigners, who were concerned about the environmental impact of the project, which is to occupy almost 166,000 square meters in County Galway, west Ireland. They alleged the facility would have a negative impact on people living around the site, and also on the fauna and flora at the Derrydonnell Woods, around Athenry, east of Galway, where the data centre is to be built.
Construction of the first phase promised to generate 300 temporary jobs, with 100 permanent staff required to run it.
However, three objectors subsequently asked the fast track Commercial Court division of the High Court to review the decision.
At its peak, the investment in Galway is estimated to be worth more than €1bn and would put Ireland on the global digital map as well as encouraging more digital investments and data centres to go west.
"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 Irish and Danish data centers are created to improve the performance of cloud services for European customers, including Siri, iMessage, iTunes, iMessage and Maps.
When the project was announced, Apple said it meant to spend €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) on a data centre in Ireland and another in Denmark, with each one costing €850 million (£762 million).
Up to 2,000 residents marched through Athenry in support of the data centre development back in November 2016.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar held talks with Apple executives last month, who warned the delay could influence future investment decisions.
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