IT-giant’s long-scrapped data centre may have long-lasting implications for the Irish data centre industry

The Irish Supreme court will sit in the city of Galway next March to discuss the process that led to the first phase of Apple’s planned Athenry hyperscale data centre being approved, reports the Irish Times.

Apple ditched plans for the ill-fated data centre in May after becoming frustrated with waiting for planning permission.

If constructed it would have been the largest data centre in Europe, and been a considerable boon to the local economy, but from the outset Apple faced resistance from residents and experts alike, who criticised the proposed centre’s power requirements and impact on local wildlife.

“Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data centre,” Apple said at the time.

Even though Apple has no plans to revive the project, residents local to the planned site remain furious over the process that led to the centre’s initial phase being approved. Residents Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly are appealing the High Court’s dismissal of their challenge concerning how the board dealt with the company’s proposal.

Apple received planning permission from the approval board in August 2016. According to the appellants, the approval board failed to adequately assess the environmental impact of the data centre, as part of its obligation to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The outcome of the appeal, which will be heard on March 6th in Galway, will likely affect the board’s consideration of similar data centre development projects, at a time when Ireland is pitching itself as the data centre capital of Europe.

Research conducted by BroadGroup last year places Ireland as a leading data centre market – attracting international interest due to its status within the European Union and its low corporate tax framework.

Towns in Ireland are scrambling to compete for a slice of the data centre pie, viewing centres as a quick route to transforming the economic fortunes of their areas.

Major provider CyrusOne was recently granted permission for a €400mn data centre in Dublin, and last month plans for a €400m, 51-hectare, 90mw, site in Clare, were presented to councillors.