Friday 9 December 2016

Council raises concerns over €850m Apple centre

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Ireland beat competition from 18 other countries to secure the new data centre which is due to begin operations in less than 18 months. Photo: Reuters
Ireland beat competition from 18 other countries to secure the new data centre which is due to begin operations in less than 18 months. Photo: Reuters

TECH giant Apple has been ordered to provide additional information to a local authority around energy consumption and traffic levels at a proposed €850m data centre.

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Galway County Council has also sought further details on how staff will travel to and from the plant proposed for Athenry, before it considers granting planning permission.

In a letter dated June 11 last, the council says there is a "lack of detail" about alternative sites considered for the plant, and said it needed more detail on how the company proposed only using renewable energy to power the centre.

Proposals to use 100pc 'green' energy had "raised concerns with regard to the method in which it is to be implemented and the commitment fulfilled", it said. Ireland beat competition from 18 other countries to secure the new data centre which is due to begin operations in less than 18 months.

The company plans to build as many as eight massive buildings of almost 25,000 square metres each by 2031 to cater for the "rapid expansion in wireless electronic communications, entertainment and working".

Up to 300 jobs will be created during construction, and 150 full-time positions once operational.

Data centres are essentially large halls with an uninterrupted electricity supply which store data from smartphones, tablets and computers including images, video and documents.

However, the council said that data submitted around energy consumption were "vague and ambiguous" and required further clarification. It also questioned a requirement to have 18 generators on site, particularly as the planning application stated that only one would be needed at a time.

"Please justify the requirement for 18 generators. Please also state the likelihood of a power outage which would set off the need for the generators. Please state the predicted noise level at the nearest sensitive receptor when the generators are fully operational," the letter says.

It has also asked Apple to address the impact that climate change would have, and to provide further detail on a proposed wastewater treatment plant.

The National Roads Authority has also raised concerns about works occurring close to the Gort to Tuam motorway which is under construction. Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins, and other interest groups, have also asked Apple to consider part-funding a cycleway on the old Tuam-Athenry railway line, with Senator Higgins noting there were possible "naming rights" for the developers,

Local residents have raised concerns about the choice of site, construction impacts, and noise levels.

If approved, the first phase will involve construction of a 'data hall' which will be 330 metres long, 75 metres wide and 10 metres high.

The plan involves clearing 33 hectares of woodland, which has also raised objections.

Irish Independent

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