Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, welcomed today’s High Court ruling allowing the Athenry Apple datacentre project to proceed. It upholds that the correct decision was made by Galway County Council over two years ago and also by An Bord Pleanala. Lessons must now be learned to ensure our planning system facilitates crucial investment and that this doesn’t damage our international reputation as a place to do business.
Ibec Executive Órla Casey stated: “We want Ireland to be an attractive place to do business, create jobs and invest. Our planning system needs to support this. Instead, our planning system has descended into a black hole of bureaucracy. The Apple Athenry case is a very good example of a planning system that in its current form is dysfunctional and can too easily be exploited. This had been a long-drawn out process, yet the local community and Apple have continuously demonstrated their commitment to the project and to investing in Ireland.
“What is worrying, is that if we do not rectify the issue of statutory timelines for planning, we will see these kinds of projects go elsewhere. Our third-party appeal system is designed to protect people from poor planning decisions, however all too often it is used and abused as a mechanism simply to delay projects from commencing. Sadly, it has taken us years to get to this point and our regions do not have the luxury of missing out on these kinds of investments.
“Unfortunately, high profile cases like this might amplify the perception that Ireland is a difficult place to do business. There are plenty of examples of both public and private projects being derailed due to inbuilt flaws in the planning system. Projects that benefit society and the economy must be prioritised. A streamlined and more certain planning process will unlock new investment, including speedier delivery of much needed infrastructure projects across all regions of Ireland.”