The Irish High Court has finally approved Apple’s Athenry data centre, after years of delays.
The decision was made by Justice Paul McDermott, who ruled that Apple should be granted permission to build the data centre, despite objections from local residents.
The data centre project has been plagued by delays since it was announced in 2015. An Apple facility in Denmark announced at the same time is near completion, while the construction of the Athenry site has not yet begun.
Paul Keane, from the Apple for Athenry Facebook group which has campaigned to allow the tech giant to build its data centre there, described the decision as “great news.”
The decision does not end the process, however. The case will return to the courts on Monday, where it will be decided whether or not a further appeal can be made against Apple. It is expected that this appeal will be made and the process will continue.
The objectors are two local residents who cite environmental concerns about the proposed facility, which would be situated in Derrydonnell Forest, around three miles from Athenry.
Planning permission was initially granted in September 2015 by Galway County Council, but objectors went to local planning body An Bord Pleanála. That board in turn approved the project, but further objections were made to the High Court in Ireland.
Though the judicial review process was fast-tracked by Apple, it has still taken some time to complete. A decision was expected to be made in July, but was delayed until October thanks to a lack of High Court judges.
Apple intends to use the data centre to store European user data from services such as iMessage, iTunes and the App store. The facility will cost around £750 million and is expected to provide 100 jobs in the local area.
Other tech giants have announced data centre plans in Ireland, including Facebook and Amazon. The Irish government recently proposed a fast-track planning permission scheme for data centres, in order to keep investment coming in to the country.