Timeline of appeals about Apple in Athenry

Apple's planned data centre in Athenry, Co Galway has been subject to appeals since it was first announced in February 2015.

Apple has announced that it will not proceed with plans for an €850m data centre at a greenfield site outside Athenry in Co Galway.

The project was announced early in 2015, but has been mired in planning appeals since then.

Here is a timeline of the project:

February 2015 – Apple announces plans to invest €850m to construct a greenfield site at Derrydonnell Woods, near the town of Athenry in Co Galway.

Construction of the first phase promised to generate 300 temporary jobs, with 100 permanent staff required to run the facility.

The 24,500 square metre data centre will cater for the company's Apple Music, App Store, Messages, Maps and Siri customers in Europe.

A similar facility is also announced for Viborg, Denmark. 

September 2015 – Galway County Council grants permission for the project to go ahead, subject to planning conditions.

This decision is subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála by more than half a dozen opponents.

 

May 2016 – Oral hearings are held in Galway city on the single storey development. A Senior Counsel for the company says there are plans to construct additional data centres over the next 15 years.

The Senior Director of data centre developments at Apple said the centre was planned as internet traffic was expected to quadruple in the next five years.

There are public concerns over the amount of power the plant would require from the national grid.

11:40

August 2016 – The planning authority grants permission to the tech giant to proceed with the Athenry project.

A separate application for a 220kV electrical substation and a number of towers is also approved.

Three opponents to the plan – Allan Daly, Sinead Fitzpatrick and Brian McDonagh - bring a court challenge on the basis that An Bord Pleanála failed to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed development.

They say an assessment was only carried out on the proposed initial development – a single data centre – as opposed to the wider plans for a number of data centres.

11:40
11:41

July 2017 – The company announces that it will spend more than €800m on a second data centre in Denmark.

The first facility at Vibrog - which was announced at the same time as the Athenry site - is nearing completion. 

.

11:41

12 October 2017 – The Commerical Court, a division of the High Court, backs An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant permission to build the data centre.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said he was refusing both applications from the objectors.

He said he was satisfied with the EIA carried out, and said he was not satisfied with the claim by the applicants that the board did not give any consideration to the issues around location.

The court also found that Mr McDonagh, who is based in Dublin, did not have standing to bring proceedings due to his lack of physical proximity to the site. 

.

1 November 2017 – The High Court refuses permission to Mr Daly and Ms Fitzpatrick to appeal its decision over the 500-acre project.

Mr Justice McDermott said he was not satisfied that their argument constituted a point of law of exceptional public importance, or that it should be the subject of an appeal in the public interest.

4 November 2017 – In a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Apple CEO Tim Cook stops short of committing to proceed with the plans for the Galway centre.

Mr Varadkar met with the tech boss at Apple HQ in California as part of a trade mission to the US west coast.

The Taoiseach told Mr Cook that the Government is behind the project.

In a statement he said the company agreed to continue to consider Athenry in the context of their future business plans, but did not give a start date or a definite commitment to proceed with the data centre project.

.

5 November 2017 – The Government confirms that in future data centres such as the one proposed for Athenry will be considered strategic infrastructure for planning purposes.

In practice this means that applicants will apply directly to An Bord Pleanála, rather than the local authority, in an effort to speed up the planning process. 


5 December 2017 – Mr Allan and Ms Fitzpatrick apply to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the High Court decision.

A spokesperson for Apple declines to comment on the latest development.

9 February 2018 – The Supreme Court reserves judgment on Mr Allan and Ms Fitzpatrick's application.

A Junior Counsel for the pair said they argue that An Bord Pleanála was required by law to carry out an EIA of the entire plan, but did not and no reason was given as to why not.

A legal representative for An Bord Pleanála argues that her client had not done a full EIA of the entire masterplan as it was not proposed, nor was Apple seeking planning permission for it.

She said if Apple returns and applies for planning for further centres then the board would assess this.

The three judges say they will give their decision in due course. 

.

3 May 2018 – The Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal.

They say the central issue it has to decide is whether An Bord Pleanála was required under law to consider the impact of an expansion of the project to include up to eight data halls, rather than the one hall for which permission was granted.

The court says it is aware that the proceedings have taken some time and it is anxious that they proceed "with all due expedition."

11:46

10 May 2018 - A representative for Apple tells the Supreme Court that they will no longer be proceeding with the Athenry project and are withdrawing from the proceedings.

The appeal is not withdrawn, with Chief Justice Frank Clark saying the commercial urgency has disappeared but others might still like to use the planning permission.

It is adjourned until 31 May.

Ms Fitzpatrick and Mr Daly, who were both in court for the hearing, decline to be interview afterwards, saying they need to consider the impact of the decision.

11:46
tester