Apple’s Athenry project is back in the balance

Publican Martin Morrissey of the Square Inn and Eileen Hynes celebrate with other locals in Athenry on Thursday after the announcement that Apple was given go-ahead to build the €850m data centre. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Supporters of Apple’s Athenry plans have been left to stew for another week at least as objectors prepare a fresh court challenge to frustrate attempts to build an €850 million data centre.

Relief and joy permeated the town last Thursday, after the commercial court validated the decision by An Bórd Pleanála to grant permission for the development. However, it was replaced with frustration and anger on Tuesday, when it emerged an appeal of that decision has been sought.

Justice Paul McDermott on Thursday last rejected two judicial review challenges to the grant of planning permission in August 2016.

Local residents of Lisheenkyle, Allan Daly and Sinéad Fitzpatrick, were concerned about the potential environmental impact of the project. They have now sought leave to appeal. An application on whether they are permitted to appeal the decision will be heard next Wednesday, October 25.

The proposed centre at Derrydonnell covers more than 24,000 square metres. Around 300 construction jobs would be created during the building phase and up to 150 on an ongoing basis.

Athenry is hopeful leave for appeal will be refused, although appealing again to the supreme court remains an option.

“It’s fair to say there is a growing impatience with the objections,” said County Councillor Peter Feeney of the Athenry for Apple group.

“It’s getting visceral, if I can use that word. People are feeling, ‘hold on a minute, this is our town and these objectors are going to ruin our town’. It is very serious.”

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.