Saturday 3 December 2016

€850m Apple data centre for Galway delayed two years

Paul Melia and Caroline Crawford

Published 13/08/2016 | 02:30

An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the massive development on a 197-hectare site owned by State forestry company Coillte, despite some objections Photo: PA
An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the massive development on a 197-hectare site owned by State forestry company Coillte, despite some objections Photo: PA

Apple's €850m data centre is not now expected to open for business until early 2019 due to delays caused by the planning process.

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The tech giant has been given permission to build the 24,500-square-metre facility near Athenry in Co Galway. It will take up to 28 months to complete and will be delivered two years later than expected.

The company joins Google, Microsoft and Amazon, which have already built data centres here. The centre will help run online services including the iTunes store, App store and Siri.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the massive development on a 197-hectare site owned by State forestry company Coillte, despite some objections. Coillte refused to state how much the land was sold for, while Apple could not be reached for comment.

Among the reasons why the project was approved included the "projected demand" for data storage in the future, coupled with the "economic and operational rationale for the clustering of data storage capacity on one site," the board said.

It also noted the difficulties in identifying suitable sites required for the massive developments, which must be linked to the national grid. An electricity sub-station was also approved.

OPW Minister Sean Canney said the permission was "fantastic" news for Galway.

"The Atlantic economic corridor is a vision for balanced development of the country, and this makes a statement about the west of Ireland," he said.

Independent TD Noel Grealish said he had been "assured" by Apple executives that building work would commence shortly. The Galway Chamber said it would provide a welcome boost to the local economy.

The plans were approved by Galway County Council in September last year, but appealed to the board following a number of objections. Among the concerns included flooding fears, energy usage, environmental and climate change impact and wildlife issues. The decision can be appealed to the High Court, but only on a point of law.

In its decision, the board said the development would not have a "significant effect" on protected nature sites, and that the effects of the proposal had been properly addressed.

"The proposed development would, therefore, be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area," it said in its decision.

The data centre will be powered by renewable energy, but 18 diesel generators will be available in the event of a power shortage. Work on the electricity sub-station will take place while the centre is under construction.

The decision is subject to 20 conditions, including a reduction in the number of car parking spaces, and plans for an amenity walkway, open to the public, must also be agreed with the local authority.

Up to 300 people will be employed during construction, and 150 after.

Irish Independent

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