Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, notes the decision by Apple not to proceed with a planned data centre in Athenry, Co Galway following delays in the planning process over the last three years.
Ibec Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment, Dr Neil Walker stated: “Ireland has set out its stall as a globalised economy that is open for business and investment. As the Apple Athenry case demonstrates, our planning system as presently constituted does not support this vision.
“Projects of this magnitude are capable of generating very substantial direct value and spin-offs to the economy and can act as catalysts for effective regional development. It is therefore worrying that Ireland’s planning regime is increasingly seen by potential investors as a bureaucratic black hole.
“Even in situations where there is a broad range of interests in favour of investment, there are examples where the system appears to be perversely stacked against commercial development. The situation is not helped by a continuing lack of legal clarity on environmental impact assessments, and by the ease with which vexatious claims can be brought with little or no risk. However, it is uncertainty over decision timelines – whether for planning consent or for the almost inevitable judicial review – that is arguably the biggest hindrance.
“The damage caused by our dysfunctional planning regime is not limited to employment creation. The quality of life of our citizens is also being materially affected. For example, the recently-published National Development Plan sets out the need to invest at least €116 billion in public infrastructure over the next decade. This vital investment will simply not get delivered unless and until our planning and appeals regime becomes fit for purpose.”