Sunday 17 February 2019

Apple pulls plug on €850m data centre planned for Galway

Apple logo. Photo: Reuters
Apple logo. Photo: Reuters

Apple has abandoned plans for an €850m data centre in Athenry, Co Galway, citing delays in the Irish planning process.

The firm, which was facing a fresh Supreme Court and European Court appeal to a facility it announced more than three years ago, is proceeding with a second data centre in Denmark.

"Delays in the approval process have forced us to make other plans. We will not be able to move forward with the centre," an Apple statement read.

"This setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow."

To illustrate this, the technology giant pointed out new investment in its Cork facility, where 6,000 people work.

"We've been operating in Ireland since 1980, and we're proud of the many contributions we make to the economy and job creation," it said.

"In the last two years, we've spent over €550m with local companies, and our investment and innovation supports more than 25,000 jobs up and down the country. We're deeply committed to our employees and customers in Ireland."

The data centre would have been one of the largest in Europe, with 300 temporary construction jobs and 50 permanent technical staff at the Derrydonnell Woods site.


It was designed to service European online business for Apple Music, iCloud, the App Store, Messages, Maps and Siri.

These services represent the fastest growing part of Apple's business, garnering €8bn in revenue per quarter according to the company's most recent financial results.

Objectors to the centre said proper environmental assessments had not been done and that the facility might use as much as 6pc of the national grid's electricity output.

Last week, lawyers for two objectors, Sinead Fitzpatrick and Allan Daly, succeeded in an application to have an appeal heard in the High Court over a decision which had appeared to give Apple the green light to proceed with the data centre.

The Supreme Court warned that it may have to refer the case to the European Court of Justice. Such referrals can take years.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Apple's decision was "regrettable" but not surprising, given the delays, and called it a "real blow to Athenry and the west".

Mr Varadkar said he hoped people outside of Ireland realised that the "inordinate delays" were not typical.

He also said having data centres here may help to anchor tech giants to Ireland.

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