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€850m Apple data centre could be held up following objection


An artist's impression of the new Apple data centre planned for Athenry, Co Galway

An artist's impression of the new Apple data centre planned for Athenry, Co Galway

An artist's impression of the new Apple data centre planned for Athenry, Co Galway

Construction of tech giant Apple's €850m data centre faces delays following an appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

Two objections have been lodged with the planning appeals board, which could result in a delay of four months.

The company plans to build a 25,000sqm data centre on a 197-hectare site near Athenry in Co Galway.

The data centre will help run online services, including the iTunes store, App store and Siri, and was expected to be operational in 2017.

Granted planning permission by Galway County Council earlier this month, two objections have now been lodged with the board. It is understood that both are from local residents.

The objections are believed to centre on concerns about traffic, including the impact that trucks travelling to and from the site will have on nearby homes during the construction period.

There is also concern about the impact rock blasting will have on drinking water wells. Objections have also been raised about the impact the development will have on wildlife.

Further objections could follow, as parties which made submissions to the local authority have 15 days to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

They could also seek an oral hearing, which could further delay a decision. However, it is likely that the objections will be dealt with directly by the board.

The board is expected to deal with cases within 18 weeks, meaning a final decision is unlikely before the end of the year.

Ireland beat competition from 18 other countries to secure the new €850m data centre. While one is currently being planned, the company has said that by 2031, eight buildings of almost 25,000sqm each could be in place to cater for the "rapid expansion" in wireless communications, entertainment and networking.

Some 300 jobs will be created during construction, and 150 full-time positions later.

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

The data centre will be powered by renewable energy, but 18 diesel generators will be provided in case of power shortage.

Apple also intends using electric vehicles "where possible" to move staff and goods on the site.

The planning application was made in the name of Apple Distribution Ltd and is for lands at Derrydonnell near Athenry.

Currently owned by Coillte, there will be "no significant" environmental impacts during construction, but up to 10 HGVs every hour may enter the site at peak times.

Irish Independent