Apple's Galway site objector goes after Amazon

The online retail giant's Dublin development could face delays...

An Athenry engineer who opposed Apple's construction of a major development in his locality has now objected to Amazon's plans for a data centre in Dublin.

Allan Daly has argued that Amazon should be refused planning permission for its proposed €1 billion Mulhuddart development until the online retail and cloud computing giant outlines exactly how much energy the campus will require.

According to the Irish Independent, Daly made the case that Fingal County Council's decision should be deferred until the completion of an assessment of Ireland's renewable energy framework, which is currently being undertaken by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It was reported last month that Amazon had furnished Fingal County Council with a submission to build a 20,739 sq metre data centre in Mulhuddart, costing up to €200m.

A further seven smaller centres could then follow on the IDA-owned location, involved an estimated future spend of another €700m.

If successful, 'Project G' would take roughly 18 months to complete, creating 400 construction jobs in the process.

Amazon already has a number of data centres in Blanchardstown and three around the Tallaght area, and is currently building a massive data centre at the Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park, next to Dublin Airport.

It employs 1,400 people in the capital, as well as 800 in Cork. As well as hosting its own internet operations, Amazon's data centres also have global clients including the likes of Kellogg's, Netflix and Unilever.

Apple case ongoing

As for Apple's Galway plans, the Athenry project has been stalled due to appeals.

Whilst An Bord Pleanála upheld the county council’s decision to grant permission for the Apple development, this was then challenged by Mr Daly and others in the High Court.

Apple successfully ensured the case would fast-tracked to the Commercial Court last November, with Apple Distribution International director Catherine Kearney making the case that data centres were "critical pieces of infrastructure required to support the worldwide demand for global storage necessary to cater for the rapid expansion in wireless electronic communication, entertainment and work."

That same month, over 2,000 people staged a march in Athenry to support Apple's plans.

Peter Feeney, a Fine Gael councillor and 'Athenry for Apple' member, told Newstalk Breakfast at the time that there was a "general concern" that the delay will result in Apple abandoning the project, which would be "the biggest single investment ever west of the Shannon".

"The decisions from Galway County Council and An Bord Pleanála were very clear-cut in favour of the project," Feeney said.

"Going for judicial review is the one area where you don't have much in terms of clarity in terms of the end-game. So we felt that it was important that we put our best foot forward yesterday. We were astonished at the number of people that turned up."

Some 300 people would be employed during the data centre's construction, which would then house 150 workers.

"And the 150 would be Apple employees," Feeney noted, "but you would also have all the knock-on contract work that would come with a facility of that size in terms of maintenance and all of that.

"And then, of course, you'd have the marquee sign of Apple locally. We've a lot of other land owned by the IDA, hundreds of acres, within two miles of the site, which would be available for other investors to come, on the basis that if a location is good enough for Apple, it's probably good enough for anybody."

The Commercial Court hearing finished on March 24th, with a judgment still pending.

In contrast, another new data centre in Denmark, whose planned development was announced at the same time as the Athenry project, is already under construction.