Apple is understood to have expressed serious concerns to Irish officials about the potential implications for its proposed €850 million new data centre in Co Galway, after local residents launch a High Court bid to stop it.
The company is concerned the go-ahead for the proposed project in Athenry could be delayed by a further 18 months if the High Court grants a full review of the recent decision by An Bord Pleanála to give scheme the go-ahead.
Local residents Allan Daly and Sinéad Fitzpatrick, who were named among the objectors to the project in the board's report on the application, have launched an ex-parte (one side only) application for a judicial review.
The High Court has granted leave for a full hearing on their application, which is due for mention on November 8th. It has not yet been decided if the matter will proceed to a full judicial review, but if Mr Daly and Ms Fitzpatrick are successful with their application, any delay is sure to be lengthy.
Apple was unavailable for comment last night. But the company is known to be worried about the future of the project if a judicial review is granted, and it is believed to have made its fears known to State enterprise officials.
Apple announced its intention to build the data centre in Athenry in February 2015, the same day that it also announced a similar investment in Denmark. Work is already underway on the Danish facility while the proposed Galway investment remains mired in the planning process.
Apple wants to build the Athenry facility on a 500-acre site at Derrydonnell, which it was expected would be operational by 2017 with the creation of about 150 jobs. Galway County Council granted approval, subject to certain conditions such as the hours during which construction work can take place.
Several objectors then appealed it to An Bord Pleanála, which gave the green-light in August. Some of the objectors are now challenging that decision.
Despite environmental concerns over the project raised by objectors, the board decided it “would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity”.
In his submissions to the board, Mr Daly raised a number of issues including concern over the power consumption of the data centre, as well as fears about the release of greenhouse gases, and the scale of the site.
Ms Fitzpatrick objected to the project in submissions to the board on behalf of a local group, Concerned Residents of Lisheenkyle.
The Lisheenkyle residents argued the project “shows disregard for regional and local planning policy . . . The development is not of strategic importance and is not supported by regional policy,” they said.
The residents also claimed the potential employment was “overstated” by the company, and suggested the project should be moved to an alternative site in Co Wicklow.
Mr Daly and Ms Fitzpatrick have hired Galway law firm Kennedy Fizgerald to represent them in the High Court. The firm could not be reached for comment last night.