Court rejects appeal against €850m Apple project in Athenry

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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.

They claimed An Bord Pleanála granted permission without carrying out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment.

On Sunday Patently Apple posted a report titled "A Hardy Group of Irishman from Athenry attended a Rally today Supporting Apple's Proposed Data Centre".

High Court judge Paul McDermott on Thursday dismissed two separate appeals against the planning permission, clearing the way for the project to proceed.

At its peak, the investment in Galway is estimated to be worth more than €1bn and would put Ireland on the global digital map as well as encouraging more digital investments and data centres to go west.

Ireland's global business reputation has been damaged by delays to the Apple data centre in Athenry, according to IBEC.

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"The planning process itself in Ireland is transparent, open and like in any effective and functioning democracy gives citizens the right to comment and provide inputs".

Apple argued Mr McDonagh had made no submissions to Galway County Council in respect of the original planning application and nor had he appealed to the Board before bringing his case. The Irish government is now considering amending its planning laws to include certain data centers as strategic infrastructure, in order to push them through the planning process more quickly. That appeal was delayed not once but twice, leading some to lose hope that the project would ever proceed.

Up to 2,000 residents marched through Athenry in support of the data centre development back in November 2016.

The €850m investment has been held up for years while a similar project in Denmark - originally announced alongside the Galway plans - is now close to completion.

Apple executives met with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in September, and reportedly told him that the company was frustrated with the planning and judicial delays, Reuters reported. The Apple Athenry case is a very good example of a planning system that in its current form is dysfunctional and can too easily be exploited.

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