Apple faces new hearing on €850m Galway centre
A proposed €850m Apple data centre in Athenry, Co Galway faces a challenge, with an oral hearing into the project now planned by An Bord Pleanála.
The 24,500sqm data centre is being built for the company's Apple Music, App Store, Messages, Maps and Siri customers in Europe.
But objections to the new facility, which looks set to create 300 construction jobs, have ranged from traffic congestion to inadequate consideration for the local bat population.
A spokesman for Apple described the project's reception in Co Galway as being "overwhelmingly positive" and said that it would address any outstanding issues being raised.
"We welcome the opportunity to address any additional questions An Bord Pleanála may have," the spokesman told the Irish Independent.
"The planning process is an important way for everyone to have their say and we've made every effort to incorporate the feedback we've received.
"Our plans are for our greenest data centre yet, which is designed to be sympathetic to its surroundings and, like all our data centres, run on 100pc renewable energy from day one."
While oral hearings for major infrastructural projects are not unusual in the planning process, the Apple hearing is set to hear questions around environmental and power-consumption issues.
In December, An Bord Pleanála asked for clarification on a number of issues related to the project, including where the company will source its renewable energy and the environmental impact on the local bat population.
Other objectors have questioned the amount of energy required to power the facility.
The project's supporters include Galway's Chamber of Commerce, whose executives say it will enhance the region's commercial visibility.
"I could see it as a catalyst to attract additional investment here," said Frank Greene, president of Galway's Chamber of Commerce. "It's also going to have a big multiplier effect on indirect jobs here."
Apple held a supplier fair in Athenry for would-be local suppliers to the data centre project.
"I'd hate to see an incinerator or a power plant put in there," said Anne Keary, principal of Lisheenkyle National School, a primary school that borders the proposed Apple development.
"But I'm here 36 years and this is a dream come true for the locality. Apple has dealt with us very professionally.
"As an educator, if we were to choose a neighbour, Apple would be up there."