A High Court challenge has been brought against a decision to extend the life of a planning permission granted allowing tech giant Apple build a data centre in Co Galway.
The High Court heard that Galway County Council was not entitled to make a decision extending planning permission to build the centre, located near Athenry.
Apple secured permission to build the centre from An Bord Pleanala in 2016, but citing lengthy delays shelved its plans to go ahead with the development in May 2018.
The board's decision allowing Apple to build the €850m facility was the subject of a legal challenge by local residents.
That case raised important issues concerning Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in regards to other infrastructure projects.
In 2019, the Supreme Court upheld the board's decision to grant permission. The court ruled that the board was not obliged to carry out a full EIA on the entire masterplan.
The court also said it did not consider it necessary to refer the issues for ruling by the European Court of Justice.
The High Court heard today that one of the local residents who took the earlier action, Mr Allan Daly, now seeks to challenge Galway County Council's decision to extend the duration of the original planning permission granted to Apple in 2016.
Oisin Collins Bl, instructed by solicitor Aoife O'Connell for Mr Daly, said while Apple never went ahead with the project, and no works have ever been carried out on the lands, it applied to the council to extend the life of the planning permission granted in 2016.
Counsel said that the original permission was due to expire on 24 September 2021, which was the end of the permission's standard five-year life span.
Earlier this year, Apple sought to have the permission extended by a further five years. Counsel said that Apple also said in its application that it expects the development to be completed within the period of the extension.
Counsel said that what was stated in the application to extend permission was contrary to statements made by Apple during the earlier proceedings before the Supreme Court and to the media.
Counsel said that while Apple's position appears to want to extend a permission it has in fact no intention of giving effect to.
Counsel said that his client made submissions to the Council on the extension application. However, those submissions were not considered by the local authority as part of the decision-making process.
Counsel said that the action has been brought in grounds including that contrary to his client's rights the matter was determined by the Council without any public consultation or without considering Mr Daly's submissions.
It is also argued that the development requires to be assessed in order to comply with EU directives on habitats and EIAs.
Documentation submitted in respect of those requirements were prepared six years ago, counsel said.
The information in those documents is out of date, and needs to be updated before any decision to extend permission could be made, counsel added.
Carbon emissions targets and policies have changed significantly in recent years, and no account seems to be taken of this, it is alleged.
Galway County Council was not entitled to make a decision extending permission without first being provided with up-to-date material regarding habits and an EIA, counsel said.
No adequate reasons have been given for the local authorities' decision to extend permission, it is further submitted.
In judicial review proceedings against the Council, Ireland and the Attorney General, he seeks orders quashing Galway County Council's decision to extend the duration of the permission granted to Apple.
He also seeks an order quashing the Council's decision not to accept submissions he made in July 2021 in respect of the application to extend the duration of the permission.
Apple Distribution International Limited are a notice party to the action.
The matter came before Mr Justice Brian O'Moore, on an ex-parte basis, during today's High Court vacation sitting.
The judge adjourned the case to a date in October, when the new legal term commences.