A long-awaited decision on Apple’s proposed Irish data has been delayed for another week - because of a shortage of judges to hear the case.

Apple filed a proposal for a $950 million (€850m) data center in 2015, which was quickly approved. However, opposition to the scheme emerged from various quarters and the plan has faced legal delays. The final judgement was due on Friday, but has apparently now been delayed for a week.

Athenry for Apple march
Athenry for Apple march – Seán Kyne TD

Waiting at the court

Six members of Athenry for Apple, a local group supporting the proposal, showed up at the court on Friday to hear Mr Justice Paul McDermott present his final decision, only to find the court was closed, according to Galway Bay FM. The courts service said a shortage of judges means the result won’t be announced till this Friday (30 June). 

Apple wants to build a 263,000 sq ft (24,000 sq m) data center, on a 500-acre forest site in Derrydonnell, which would demand 20MW and employ 150 people when it is up and running, The company plans to provide renewable power to offset the demand on the grid. The site could eventually hold up to eight data centers, built over a period up to 2031.

The plans have suffered multiple delays, based on environmental concerns, but Apple won the right to have the decision “fast-tracked” in November 2016, which should have reduced a potential 18 month delay to only six months, but it’s already seven months from the fast-track announcement. 

Two named objectors remain in the case: local residents Sinéad Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, who asked the High Court for a judicial review on environmental grounds. An objection by Brian McDonagh, who has a proposal to build a data center in Wicklow, was over-ruled in February.