The Commercial Court has cleared the way for tech giant Apple to develop a data hall in Athenry, Co Galway, the first phase of a planned €850 million development.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott, in separate judgments yesterday, rejected two judicial review challenges to the planned data hall at Derrydonnell, Athenry, the first of eight such halls Apple may build over a 15-year period.
The judge noted Apple had recognised each hall was a “stand alone development” and the other seven data halls provided for in its “master plan” may or may not proceed in the future and were subject to “market demand”.
The reality is the other planned halls and associated grid connection will require planning permission and a further Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), he said.
Rejecting arguments the data hall was a development that could only properly be considered as part of the overall master plan, he held the hall can operate on a standalone basis and can go ahead irrespective of future site proposals.
While An Bord Pleanála’s inspector had found the entire masterplan would have a “potentially material impact” in terms of increased overall CO emissions, and hence implications for climate change and Ireland’s ability to meet its greenhouse emission targets, the inspector considered the potential employment and regional development benefits of the centre outweighed potential adverse climate change impacts, the judge said.
The inspector had noted there is no national climate change policy regarding high energy consuming projects such as data centres, he added.
He dismissed the first challenge, by local residents Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, of Lisheenkyle, Athenry, whose concerns included those about the potential environmental impact of the entire development, particularly concerning greenhouse gas emissions.