Apple drops plans for a $1 billion data center in Ireland

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Despite their decision with respect to Athenry, Apple insists today's setback will not dampen their enthusiasm elsewhere in Ireland.

Apple has pulled out of building a data centre in Athenry.

"Who is going to build any sites around the west of Ireland?"

"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", Apple said in a statement ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Thursday.

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Apple have said that the decision will have no affect on its commitment to its business in Ireland; they've had a presence in Ireland since 1980 and say that they support 2,500 jobs around the country. And while there was a tiny glimpse of hope that Apple could change its mind for a future data center, Apple officially scrapped the Athenry data center according to a report by Ireland's RTÉ today.

The whole case underscores some of the ongoing issues that apparently exist in Ireland over how data centers are planned and approved by local authorities, and there is talk of reforming that whole process, but that is not something Apple will get involved with at this point.

A policy statement on the role of data centres in Ireland's overall business strategy and legislative proposals around the designation of data centres as 'strategic infrastructure' are some of a number of steps to ensure this outcome is not repeated.

"We're deeply committed to our employees and customers in Ireland and are expanding our operations in Cork, with a new facility for our talented team there".

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Local Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte also said it is devastating: "In the last three years it has been mired in a council, in planning, in Bord Pleanala and in the courts system, riddled with objections". Humphries said that the delays highlight the need for planning and legal processes to become much more efficient in future. It would have created around 50 permanent jobs and required around 300 construction contractors to build. As part of its CSR in building the facility on that land, Apple also pledged to "restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest", as well as build an outdoor education space an a walking trail.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys has described the decision as disappointing and wants the planning process to be streamlined. The company now employs over 5,500 people in Ireland.

Updated, 10.52am, 10 May 2018: This article was updated to include comment from IDA Ireland CEO, Martin Shanahan.

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