Costs of court challenge over Athenry data centre may run to €1m

Legal expenses around abandoned Apple plan estimated to be minimum of €500,000

Apple  has scrapped proposals to build a data centre in Ireland following delays in the planning process. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Apple has scrapped proposals to build a data centre in Ireland following delays in the planning process. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

 

Legal bills for the court challenge to Apple’s abandoned plans for a data centre could run to about €1 million, according to some calculations.

The US tech giant this week dropped proposals for an €850 million data centre outside Athenry, Co Galway, citing delays in the planning process, which wound up before the courts.

Estimates of the total cost of the court challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s decision to allow the project run to about €1 million at the higher end, although some sources yesterday suggested that it might be closer to €500,000.

The Supreme Court could yet hear the appeal as a number of parties argue that the case has raised legal issues relevant to similar developments.

At this point, it is reckoned that An Bord Pleanála’s costs would be somewhere between €100,000 and €150,000.

Because objectors regularly ask the courts to review An Bord Pleanála’s decisions – it fielded about 40 challenges last year – the body can negotiate lower rates than normal with its lawyers.

The State, also a party to the case, may face a similar bill. Apple, which refused to comment on its bill, is thought to have run up costs of between €200,000 and €300,000.

Individual parties

Sources say that it is harder to calculate the bills potentially faced by objectors,  Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, but their combined costs could bring the total close to €1 million. *

If the case does not proceed further, the individual parties could have to pay their own costs.

If the Supreme Court does agree to hear it in full, An Bord Pleanála and the State would only have to pay costs for other parties if the board loses.

The case is a judicial review, where a judge reviews how the board arrived at its decision.

The initial cost could be between €18,000 and €35,000 to prepare papers and the case itself. After that, senior counsel charges between €3,000 and €7,000 a day for court appearances, while there may be other expenses as well.

As the challenge was to An Bord Pleanála’s decision to uphold Galway County Council’s decision to grant Apple planning permission, the appeal may go ahead despite the US company opting to drop the proposal.

*This article was amended on June 12th, 2018