Apple has announced that it has abandoned plans for a new data center in Ireland, citing delays with the government approval process, The Independent reports. Apple committed to building an €850m ($1b) data centre in Athenry, Co Galway three years ago, alongside a similar facility in Denmark, however despite receiving approval from Irish authorities in 2016, and from the Irish High Court late last year, Apple began wavering in its decision last fall after concerned citizens filed appeals with the High Court regarding the completion of environmental assessments and concerns about the impact on Ireland’s national electricity grid.
Last week, lawyers for citizens in opposition to the data center succeeded in their application to have their appeal heard by the High Court, which also warned that it might even be necessary to refer the case to the European Court of Justice, since the appeal brought up EU “points of law” outside of the Irish government’s authority that would need to be decided in Europe, which would result in years of lengthy delays and hearings. Although the Irish Prime Minister and Irish government were very eager to move the project along — Apple’s data centre would have been one of the largest in Europe, creating significant economic growth in the west of Ireland — Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar indicated that he was disappointed by Apple’s decision, but that it wasn’t surprising considering the delays involved.
In a statement, Apple simply said “Several years ago we applied to build a data centre at Athenry. 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,” however the company also made it clear that “this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland” and said that the data center decision has no connection to its wider relationship with the country, noting that it is continuing to invest in its Cork facility, where it employs over 6,000 people, and adding that “We’ve been operating in Ireland since 1980 and we’re proud of the many contributions we make to the economy and job creation” and adding that Apple’s “investment and innovation supports more than 25,000 jobs up and down the country.” [via 9to5Mac]