A senior director at Apple tried to convince people in Ireland this week to support a gigantic server farm that it wants to build in the middle of an Irish forest.
Robert Sharpe, senior director of global data centre services at Apple, provided evidence to an oral hearing that is taking place in Galway County this week, according to a document obtained by Business Insider.
Local reports suggest that over 100 people have attended the hearing, which began on Tuesday.
In his “opening statement” (which can be read in full at the end of this article), Sharpe explains that the €850 million (£649 million) data centre is vital to Apple’s future expansion plans across Europe.
Sharpe opens his statement with the following:
Around the world, use of the internet continues to grow rapidly; annual global internet traffic is expected to treble over the next three years and more than quadruple over the next five years.
Apple is experiencing huge demand for our hugely popular services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud; every day our data centres handle tens of billions of messages, more than a billion photos, and tens of millions of FaceTime video calls.
Our customers expect to be able to stream their videos and listen to their music wherever they happen to be and they have the highest expectations in terms of speed, responsiveness, reliability and quality.
We currently have a number of active devices in use and this number continues to grow.
Apple needs to add data centre 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.
The facility would be built in phases over the next 10-15 years. It would include eight data halls — each containing thousands of servers — and could even make Apple Ireland’s single largest energy consumer.
“Derrydonnell forest, the site of the proposed development, offers a combination of factors that make it uniquely attractive for a data centre,” Sharpe said. “It is a large site, currently used for commercial forestry, which sits extremely close to two major high voltage power transmission lines in an area rich in renewable energy resources.
“The site presents us with an ideal opportunity to develop a very large, sustainable data centre, which meets our projected needs over the next 10 to 15 years. The woodland will enable us to make the site largely invisible beyond the site and we are able to improve the overall biodiversity of the site by increasing the proportion of native broadleaf trees.”
The oral hearing comes after Irish planning body An Bord Pleanála received a number of objections from individuals and organisations in relation to the proposed development.
Objections range from the impact the data centre will have on local populations of bats and badgers to flooding impact on a neighbouring golf course. Some complainants have also questioned why Apple chose this particular site when there are other sites in Ireland that have been designated for data centre use.
Apple’s planning application, which was approved by Galway County Council, is for just one of the eight data centre buildings. It would have to reapply each time it wants to build another data hall.
Business Insider visited the proposed site in February and found the majority of local residents were in favour of the proposed development.