By Ann O'Loughlin
The High Court has ruled that Apple's data centre in Athenry can go ahead.
Two challenges to the data centre in Co Galway, the first stage of a planned €850m development of eight centres there, have been dismissed by the Commercial Court.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott today rejected both challenges to the centre at Derrydonnell, Athenry.
Independent TD for Galway East Sean Canney and several members of Apple for Athenry, a group of local people who support the development, were in court for the judgments.
Apple had sought to have the cases fast-tracked in the Commercial Court, the big business division of the High Court, saying it was very anxious to proceed with the development.
It said the centre would create hundreds of jobs and is a critical piece of infrastructure necessary to deal with the exponential growth in demand for data processing and storage.
Both challenges were taken against An Bord Pleanala, with Apple Distribution Ireland, developer of the centre, as a notice party.
The first case was by Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, whose home at Lisheenkyle, Athenry, is close to the proposed centre. They claimed the Board’s August 2016 permission for the development was invalid on grounds including alleged failure to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment.
The second case was by Brian McDonagh who challenged the permission on various grounds.
Representing himself, Mr McDonagh, Unit 1, Ballymount Cross Business Park, Dublin, said he "did not oppose Apple coming to Athenry" but wanted to ensure compliance with "proper planning procedures".
Apple argued Mr McDonagh had made no submissions to Galway County Council in respect of the original planning application and nor had he appealed to the Board before bringing his case.
Noel Doherty from the campaign group ‘Apple for Athenry’ travelled to Dublin to hear today’s judgement in person.
He said: "Today’s decision has been a great decision for Athenry and the whole west of Ireland.
"I hope now that our public representatives will help us develop the whole west of Ireland and to bring companies like Apple into Athenry, and make Athenry a hub town for the whole of the west coast."