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Apple blames planning problems as it pulls plug on €850m data centre for Galway

Words: Roger Milne
Apple / iStock-506871794

Technology giant Apple has blamed planning and legal issues as it formally cancelled proposals to build an €850 million data centre in Athenry, County Galway.

In a statement the company 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.

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

Plans for the data centre surfaced in 2015. An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission the following year.

However, since then the 166,000-square metre scheme has been the subject of planning and legal challenges including a pending appeal case in the Supreme Court. A key issue has been the energy needs of the development, particularly in light of a possible programme of up to seven further data centres, all of which would be intensive energy users.

Business minister Heather Humphreys has been quoted on BBC News as saying the delays facing the project had “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 Apple debacle has raised questions over the Irish State’s third-party planning rights and what business leaders argue are often spurious objections that mean schemes can be caught up in lengthy planning and legal battles.

Image credit | iStock