Apple will be grilled by Irish National Planning Board over €850m data centre plan

'It's a 500 acre forest: there's room for Apple and the badgers'

Apple's plan to build a €850m (£658m) data centre in Galway, Ireland is to face fresh scrutiny in an oral hearing next month, following a number of environmental objections – including disturbance to bats and badgers.

The 30,000m2 data centre is intended to house European Apple consumers' iStuff.

Apple had expected that the data centre would be operational next year. However, following complaints from locals, the plans were put on hold.

Galway West councillor Peter Feeney, who is in favour of the scheme, which will create 300 construction jobs, said: "It is the middle of a 500 acre wood – there is plenty of room for both storage and the badgers."

Other issues raised include problems with traffic congestion. But Feeney believes Apple is working with the community to address these issues.

"Most people wont be able to see the project as it is in the middle of a forest and has a major buffer of trees around it. This area has been earmarked for development - and as infrastructure projects go, this is one of the least intrusive."

He added: "99 per cent of the people are in favour of it, they just have a few concerns."

The oral hearing before Ireland's National Planning Board (an Bord Pleanála) is expected to take place next month. The chairman will then make a recommendation to the council's board as to whether the project should go ahead as planned, should be subject to further conditions or will be halted entirely.

If it gets the green light, building is expected to start this summer.

Apple had previously said the Galway project "will recover land previously used for growing and harvesting non-native trees and restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest. ®

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