Apple abandons Irish data centre amid planning delays

Clare Hopping

11 May, 2018

Apple has decided not to go ahead with the Irish data centre it wanted to start building in the western town of Athenry because it’s taking too long to obtain planning consent. 

The tech giant wanted to build its latest European data centre in the country because of its proximity to green energy sources – a responsibility it’s taking seriously. However, these plans have been hindered by the slow pace of planning authorities.

“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. “While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.”

Ireland’s High Court approved the plans to build the data centre, but local residents raised strenuous objections which took the case to the Supreme Court. These repeated appeals have been the primary factor delaying the company’s plans to build a facility in the area.

“There is no disputing that Apple’s decision is very disappointing, particularly for Athenry and the West of Ireland,” Ireland’s Minister for Business and Enterprise Heather Humphreys said. “The Government did everything it could to support this investment… These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the State’s planning and legal processes more efficient.” 

Ireland’s government wants to make it easier for big businesses like Apple to build new data centres and tech infrastructure in the country as such deals bring in big bucks for the economy. Ireland now wants these structures to be viewed as “strategic infrastructure”, which means they should sail through the planning approvals process.

Apple will now put all of its energy into building a second data centre in Denmark after opening its first facility in the country late last year. The second data centre was announced in July and is due to begin operations in the second half of next year.