Apple get go-ahead to build data centre in Athenry

Mollie Spellman from Athenry during the rally in support of Apple’s Athenry data centre plans in the town on Sunday

The Irish High Court has finally approved Apple's Athenry data centre, after years of delays.

When the project was announced, Apple said it meant to spend €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) on a data centre in Ireland and another in Denmark, with each one costing €850 million (£762 million).

The objectors' main concern was the poor environmental impact assessment carried out by Apple.

The iPhone maker described the planned data centre as a "critical piece of infrastructure" after arguing that the proposed facility in County Galway, near Athenry, was needed to help the group deal with exponential growth in demand for data processing and cloud-based data storage.

But local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick, Allan Daly, and Wicklow landowner Brian McDonagh asked Ireland's High Court for a judicial review on environmental grounds.

Construction of the first phase will generate 300 temporary jobs and, when it is operational, it will employ 100 people full-time.

The US firm met five key concerns a year ago, but were held up again by appeals from three local residents, raising doubts that it would ever be approved.

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.

"This is a very important step for Athenry and for Apple", said Paul Keane, who heads up the Athenry for Apple Facebook page, which has over 4,000 members.

The long delayed project had been stalling amid local protests and appeals, before Ireland's commercial court green-lighted the project on Thursday.

Without even having started to power Apple's services, the company's data centre in Athenry has already made some profound changes in Irish regulations and citizens involvement. This prompted 2,000 local people from Athenry to march in support of the data centre past year.

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