The Supreme Court rejects the appeal by residents over Apple data hall approval

Date: 12 Apr 2019

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by local residents over An Bord Pleanála’s approval for the first phase of tech giant Apple’s planned €850m data centre in Athenry.

Although Apple is not now proceeding with the project, the court had agreed to hear the appeal because the issues raised could affect the Board’s consideration of other data centre developments.

The appeal was brought by Sinead Fitzpatrick, who lives close to the planned development, and Allan Daly, of Athenry, over the High Court’s dismissal of their challenge concerning how the Board dealt with the company’s proposal.  It was opposed by the Board.

The State, which applied to be joined to the appeal as an amicus curiae, assistant to the court on legal issues, supported the Board’s position.

Apple is no longer involved in the case, initiated by the residents after Apple got planning permission from the Board on August 11th 2016 for a development of one data hall and associated grid connection at Athenry.

The core issue concerned the extent to which the Board is obliged to assess the environmental impact of the balance of the Apple “masterplan” for eight data halls as part of the Board’s obligation to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

In its judgment today, the five judge court ruled the Board was not obliged to carry out a full EIA on the entire masterplan.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, who gave the court’s unanimous judgment, also said the court did not consider it necessary to refer issues for determination by the Court of Justice of the EU.

The court made a provision decision that each side pay their own costs. If the appellants decide to seek their costs against the Board, that issue will be decided later.

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