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Court ruling on Apple’s Irish datacentre planning dispute delayed by ‘shortage of judges’

The outcome of a judicial review into Apple's plans to build a datacentre in County Galway was delayed on Friday 23 June because of a shortage of judges, it has emerged

A shortage of judges means Apple will have to wait even longer to find out if it has the backing of the Irish commercial court to proceed with its €850m datacentre build in Athenry, County Galway.

The consumer electronics giant was potentially due to hear on Friday 23 June the outcome of a judicial review into the build, and, in turn, whether it was okay to proceed.

The case is understood, however, to have been one of a number that had to be postponed by the Irish Courts Service between 20 June and 23 June because of a “shortage of high court judges, practitioners and parties”.

It is thought the hearing will now take place the week commencing 26 June, but news of the delay has been greeted with frustration from members of the Apple for Athenry Facebook page, who are leading the local campaign efforts to get the project green-lighted.

A number of members have aired concerns that this latest setback might finally prompt Apple to pull the plug on the project, which would see the local community miss out on job opportunities and follow-on investments.

“The court system did not bother to schedule the judge to be sitting today in a case that decides the largest investment in the west of Ireland in history,” wrote one commentator. “That’s embarrassing and is bad news.”

Apple initially secured conditional permission for the project in September 2015, but the decision was challenged with the Irish planning body, An Bord Pleanála, who then went on to grant permission for it to continue 11 months later.

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In response, several objectors to the plans enforced their right to seek a judicial review into the planning decision. The outcome of this review is what local residents and Apple are now waiting on.

The Athenry datacentre was announced in February 2015, the same time the company outlined its intentions to build another server farm in Denmark. The Denmark facility is on course to open in 2017, while Apple still has no clear indication as to when it will be able to break ground in Athenry.

Computer Weekly contacted Apple for comment on this story, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

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