Apple Abandoned Plans for $1 Billion USD Irish Data Center
by Josh Anderson
DUBLIN, IRELAND — Apple released a statement that it would be pulling out of the project as its planning application had been faced with repeated delays. In the statement Apple said, “Despite our best efforts, delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans and we will not be able to move forward with the data center. While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.” Apple continued to then relay strategies to expand its European headquarters in County Cork where it employs over 6,000 people.
Apple announced its plans in 2015 to build the center in Athenry, County Galway. The project was proclaimed as Apple’s biggest in Europe and expected to create 300 jobs in Ireland. Apple unveiled a manufacturing facility in Ireland in County Cork back in 1980 and employs 5,500 across Ireland. Last year, Apple finalized an agreement with the EU to pay the country $15.4 billion in back taxes.
Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s minister for business, enterprise and innovation, described how Apple’s decision to drop the project was disappointing in a press release, “I very much regret that Apple will not be pursuing its plans to construct a data center in Athenry, especially as the project would have been a source of significant investment and job creation for Galway and the West of Ireland. Notwithstanding this bad news, I welcome that Apple have confirmed that they are strongly committed to their existing operations in Ireland.”
Ireland’s High Court said the company could go ahead with the center, but an appeal was then made by environmental campaigners to the Supreme Court. Apple’s pronouncement to leave the project came on the same day the appeal was to be heard at the country’s highest court. Ireland enjoys benefits from foreign multinational companies like Apple for the creation of one in every 10 jobs across the economy and looks to major investments such as data centers as a way of securing large companies in the country. The government is in the process of amending its planning laws to include data centers as strategic infrastructure, in order to allow them to get through the planning process much more quickly.
Humphreys added in the statement: “These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the state’s planning and legal processes more efficient. The government has therefore already been working, over the last number of months, to make improvements to those processes. The Government, together with IDA Ireland, did everything it could to support this investment. This included high-level engagement with the company, both at home and abroad. Ultimately, in spite of these efforts, Apple has taken a commercial decision not to proceed, making it clear that the delays that beset this project caused them to reconsider their plan.”