Belfast Telegraph

Apple's proposed €850m data HQ in Athenry ditched after planning row

By Michael McHugh

Technology giant Apple has scrapped proposals to build a data centre in Ireland following delays in the planning process.

The development at Athenry in Co Galway faced fierce local opposition and became tangled up in the court system.

It was first suggested more than three years ago.

An Apple statement said: "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."

The firm has been operating in Ireland since 1980.

"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."

The Republic is reliant on jobs within the technology sector to boost its open economy and uses its low corporate tax rate and skilled workers to attract multinationals.

Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys said: "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."

She said the Irish Government did everything it could to support the 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."

She said the delays underlined the 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."

Ian Talbot, chief executive of Irish business network Chambers Ireland, said: "The announcement by Apple to halt their plans for a data centre in Athenry is disappointing but not surprising and will be met with dismay by the business community generally as well as in the local region, which would have received a very significant economic boost from the proposed €850m (£750m) investment.

"Apple's confirmation that they remain fully committed to their existing operations in Ireland is greatly appreciated and a continued vote of confidence in Ireland's strength as a top location for foreign direct investment globally. However, delays in planning undermine our national competitiveness at a time when we face great uncertainty from issues outside our control, such as Brexit."

Belfast Telegraph

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