May 11, 2018 // 10:38 a.m.
Apple has confirmed it has abandoned plans to build an €850 million data centre in Ireland, allegedly over continued delays in its approval process which have seen the project stretched out for over three years.
Announced back in 2015, Apple's planned data centre was to be built in the rural town of Athenry. While the facility would have provided jobs for the region and taken advantage of nearby green energy sources, there was considerable push-back to the plan with court cases delaying Apple's schedule - some of which are still ongoing in Ireland's Supreme Court. All told, it's more than three years since the announcement and Apple still hasn't broken ground - and now it has declared that enough is enough.
'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 centre,' the company confirmed in a statement to press ahead of the latest Supreme Court hearing on the matter. 'While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.'
'I very much regret that Apple will not be pursuing its plans to construct a data centre in Athenry, especially as the project would have been a source of significant investment and job creation for Galway and the West of Ireland,' Heather Humphreys, the Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, added in a statement shortly after. 'Notwithstanding this bad news, I welcome that Apple have confirmed that they are strongly committed to their existing operations in Ireland.
'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 plans. 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. This will ensure we are better placed to take advantage of future such investment opportunities, whether from data centre providers or other sectors.'
The decision to cancel the data centre is not believed to be related to the ongoing case of €13 billion in back-taxes owed to the Irish government, collection of which began at the European Union's behest earlier this year.