An Bord Pleanála gives green light for Apple data centre

Appeals had been lodged against decision of Galway County Council to grant planning

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to US technology giant Apple to build a data centre near Athenry, Co Galway.

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to US technology giant Apple to build a data centre near Athenry, Co Galway.

 

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to US technology giant Apple to build a data centre near Athenry, Co Galway.

Apple is to invest €850 million developing the data centre to help run its online services like iTunes and Maps.

The facility, to be built on a 500 acre greenfield site at Derrydonnell, is expected to be operational in 2017 and will create 150 new jobs.

Galway County Council granted approval to the proposed development, subject to 12 conditions. The conditions included restrictions on the times during which construction work can be carried out.

A number of third party appeals were lodged with An Bord Pleanála against the decision of Galway County Council to grant planning permission for the development.

However, the board decided to grant permission for the proposed development with revised conditions.

An Bord Pleanála said subject to compliance with the conditions, that the proposed development “would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity”.

Apple put in a separate application earlier this year for a 220kV electricial substation and a number of towers. These were also approved by An Bord Pleanála.

Overall investment

A number of companies are either in the process of establishing a data centre in Ireland or are significantly expanding existing operations in an overall investment valued at €3.7 billion.

Among the companies seeking to develop data centres over the next five years are Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Vodafone, eBay, Yahoo, BT, Eir, EMC and Equinix.

Ireland has become popular with companies wishing to set up data centres in Europe due to the country’s energy and connectivity infrastructure, low corporate tax rate, and climate.

Apple said it inspected 25 sites across Galway before it chose lands in Athenry for the data centre.

Some of the lands suggested by the Industrial Development Authority were immediately dismissed because of poor roads and broadband, or else the sites were too small to cope with a 15-year plan to build eight data centres in one location. Apple said the lands chosen in Derrydonnell were “uniquely attractive”.

Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland have come under scrutiny by the EU Commission.

The EU opened the Apple probe in 2014, and, in preliminary findings, said its tax arrangements were improperly designed to give the company a financial boost in exchange for jobs in Ireland.

The Irish government has said it will “vigorously defend’’ any adverse Apple tax decision.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan last month said the European Union’s decision on Apple’s Irish tax affairs will come later than expected, with a ruling now due in September or October.