Apple Inc. may add something new to its problems with the EU: An Irish planning board has asked the company to answer tough questions about its proposed new data center as it debates its approval or no.
The new data center received the green light from the local government last fall, but calls from environmental activists have since suspended the project. Bord Pleanala has been appointed as an independent reviewer to examine the matter.
The planning body was to decide this month to let the $ 950 million data center advance. That decision has now been pushed back to May as the board asks Apple to clarify points in five specific areas, according to documents that have been seen by Business intern.
Apple Inc. asked to explain the choice of site and the environmental impact
The board has asked Apple for more details on why the isolated site in a forest near Athenry was chosen over other sites across the country.
While Apple has already addressed the environmental impact of its proposed data center, they must now state the environmental impact of the electrical substation that the center would need. They should also describe what would happen if direct solar power did not eventually meet its needs there.
Questions on renewable energies, protected species and geology
Apple wants to power the data center entirely with renewable energy, but the board says “no site or project specific information regarding renewable energy projects is provided and only details on how they could be connected to the proposed development are required “.
They also asked to see clear evidence of how Apple plans to connect the new data center to renewable energy resources.
The firm is also asked to submit the results of ecological studies carried out on the site, in particular those related to bats. They should also provide more data on the geology of the site, such as the depth of the water table and bedrock and details of the soil and subsoil therein.
Apple has until March 7 to provide the requested information. If the company does not comply, the entire plan could be abandoned.
The new data center would be built in the city of Athenry, County Galway, Ireland, and would power many major Apple services in Europe such as iMessage, the iTunes Store, Siri and Maps.
The center could create up to 300 jobs in the local area in construction and IT, but some residents complained that the center would lead to increased light and noise pollution and harm local wildlife like bats and badgers.
Last month, Facebook Inc announced plans to open a new data center in Clonee, Ireland. At the same time, Microsoft Corporation has been busy testing a underwater data center it could avoid some of the problems Apple is facing in Ireland.