Apple has finally been given permission by Ireland’s High Court to build a huge new data centre in Athenry, County Galway.
Justice Paul McDermott ruled that Apple should be granted permission to build the data centre on Ireland’s west coast.
Seán Kyne, Ireland’s minister for community development, natural resources, and digital development, said it was “very positive news for Galway and the West of Ireland.”
“This is a very important step for Athenry and for Apple,” said Paul Keane, who heads up the Athenry for Apple Facebook page, which has over 4,000 members. Keane told Business Insider that Irish laws need to be changed to prevent similar delays in the future.
Apple’s battle in Ireland isn’t over yet. Objectors are likely to appeal the court’s decision, meaning it could end up in the Supreme Court.
Apple wants to use the data centre to store European user data and to help power online services, including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps, and Siri for customers across Europe.
Very positive news for Galway and the West of Ireland with Commercial Court clearing the way for the new Apple data centre in Athenry
— Seán Kyne TD (@SeanKyneTD) October 12, 2017
The data centre is expected to cost €850 million (£762 million) and create over 100 new jobs.
The huge project has been plagued by delays over the last two years after a small number of people objected to its construction, citing environmental issues and other concerns.
- Ciaran Cannon
Apple first announced the data centre in February 2015. When the project was announced, Apple said it intended to spend €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) on a data centre in Ireland and another in Denmark, with each one costing €850 million (£762 million).
The Denmark data centre is expected to go live later this year but the project in Athenry is yet to commence.
A decision on Apple’s Irish data centre was expected to be passed in July but a shortage of High Court judges pushed the verdict back to October.
- Business Insider/Sam Shead
Apple wants to build eight data halls on a 500-acre site in Derrydonnell Forest, which is owned by state-sponsored forestry firm Coillte, and situated roughly three miles from Athenry.
Galway County Council granted Apple planning permission in September 2015 but eight objectors took the issue to local planning body An Bord Pleanála. Following public hearings in Galway last summer, An Bord Pleanála gave Apple the go-ahead to build the facility last August.
But local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick, Allan Daly, and Wicklow landowner Brian McDonagh asked Ireland’s High Court for a judicial review on environmental grounds.
Apple managed to get the case fast-tracked through Ireland’s Commercial Court after it filed a request last November. Around the same time, thousands of people in Athenry marched in favour of the data centre.
Apple has its European headquarters in Ireland and employs thousands of people in Cork, roughly two hours drive from Athenry. The company’s relationship with the country is at an interesting point, with the European Commission ordering the Irish government to claim back €13 billion (£11.7 billion) in back taxes.
Apple declined to comment.