Computer and software giant Apple has recently been given the go-ahead to move forward with the completion of a giant data center in Galway, Ireland. The project, which is valued at a little more than $850 billion Euro ($950 USD), has come under fire by local residents and environmental groups. In order to balance the concerns of locals with the company’s needs to provide additional processing and storage capacity for devices currently in use and those planned for the future, Apple has announced a plan to lessen its environmental impact at the proposed facility.
Initial approval for the project was granted to Apple by the Galway County Council in September 2015. However, environmental concerns that have been voiced has resulted in several appeals being filed in an effort to halt or modify the approved project.
Apple Speaks in Defense of the Data Center
Apple’s Robert Sharpe, Senior Director of Global Data Center Services, provided information at a recent public hearing before the Galway County Council concerning the company’s intention to build the data halls and its environmental impact. In a written statement submitted on May 27th, Sharpe stated that “Apple needs to add data center capacity on a phased basis to provide the necessary processing and storage resources needed to meet this growing number of devices as well as the increased use of current and future devices.”
Sharpe further explained, with respect to the impact of the project on the surrounding Derrydonnell forest, that the company would be able to keep the facility relatively invisible within the site, which is used primarily for commercial forestry activities. The company would seek to improve biodiversity on the site during the period the proposed data halls are built, through the addition of indigenous trees.
Local Environmental Concerns
Local residents of adjacent Derrydonnell forest, the site of the first of 8 proposed data halls to be built of the course of the next decade, filed complaints with the local planning board in an effort to slow progress. Complaints lodged with the council voiced concerns over increases in construction-related traffic and noise related to the building of the first data hall. Concerns have also been voiced over the fate of local badger and bat species that are protected and which reside in Derrydonnell forest
Apple’s Environmental Impact Plan for Galway Tech Center
Apple’s plan for the construction of the proposed data halls (the first of which construction has already commenced) is to stagger the building of the 8 facilities over several phases. A renewable energy plan for powering the facilities is in place that is in keeping with the company’s practices at its other facilities. Drinking water will be obtained from local sources; otherwise, all other water needs for the facilities will be met through rainwater harvesting. Apple also seeks to obtain LEED platinum level certification for the data halls.
These efforts seek to assuage concerns of those groups and individuals who believe the project will negatively impact the aesthetics of the area. Apple believes that through the positive economic impact the project promises to bring to the region as well as its commitment to being a good corporate neighbor will allow the project to continue going forward while providing benefits to both Apple and the surrounding community.
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