High Court rules in favour of Apple's plan for Athenry data centre

Mollie Spellman from Athenry during the rally in support of Apple’s Athenry data centre plans in the town on Sunday

Mollie Spellman from Athenry during the rally in support of Apple’s Athenry data centre plans in the town on Sunday

It is been two years since Apple announced plans to build two data centres in Europe - one in Denmark and one on Coillte owned lands in Athenry.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said he was refusing both applications from the objectors and that his reasons are set out in written judgments.

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).

A spokesperson for Apple said that the company is not commenting on the judgment at this time.

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Seán Kyne, Ireland's minister for community development, natural resources, and digital development, said it was "very positive news for Galway and the West of Ireland".

The decision does not end the process, however.

A number of local residents challenged An Bord Pleanála's decision amid concerns it hadn't carried out the necessary environmental assessment although the majority of Athenry residents are in favour the development and say it will secure the town's future.

Apple wants to use the data centre to store European user data and to help power online services, including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps, and Siri for customers across Europe.

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Apple first announced the data centre in February 2015. 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.

Galway County Council granted permission in Sept 2015 but that was appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The case will return to the courts on Monday, where it will be decided whether or not a further appeal can be made against Apple.

Ireland's worldwide business reputation has been damaged by delays to the Apple data centre in Athenry, according to IBEC. This prompted 2,000 local people from Athenry to march in support of the data centre a year ago. A decision was expected to be made in July, but was delayed until October thanks to a lack of High Court judges.

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