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Apple wins approval to begin first stage of Irish data center

Apple's official rendering of the full-scale complex.

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Coming in well ahead of its deadline, Ireland's An Bord Pleanála has approved plans to build the first stage of an Apple data center, which will include support buildings and one of eight eventual data halls.

Apple will have to apply for further permission every time it wants to add another hall, Business Insider said on Friday, noting that the facility may take as much as 10 to 15 years to reach full size. In approving the first stage, An Bord Pleanála suggested that despite concerns over things like traffic and environmental damage, the data center will help the area's economy, employing over 200 people in its construction. A smaller number of IT workers and associated staff will actually run the complex.

The board also acknowledged that it can be difficult to find sites for large-scale data centers that simultaneously need connection to the national power grid. Apple intends to fully power the facility using renewable energy sources.

The construction site is located in the town of Athenry in County Galway, not far from the Athenry Golf Club. Apple will be building on land that was previous a tree farm, and has promised to restore native trees to the area, as well as add a walking trail and an "outdoor education space" for local schools.

Apple will have to comply with some additional conditions, including limiting noise and the number of parking spaces, and running external cables underground.

Once it's finished, the data center should be Apple's first in Europe and handle traffic for iTunes, Siri, the App Store, and other cloud-based services. The company has been targeting a 2017 launch date, but may have to postpone that given the delays caused by the appeal process.