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

Apple has scrapped plans for an 850 million euro (US$1 billion) data center in Ireland.

The tech giant said Friday that it would not be going ahead with the project as its planning application had been faced with delays.

Ireland’s High Court approved that the company could go ahead with its data center in October, but an appeal was subsequently made by environmental campaigners to the Supreme Court.

Apple’s decision to end its intention to build the data center comes on the same day the appeal was meant to be heard at the country’s highest court.

“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 center,” Apple said in an emailed statement.

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

Apple first announced its plans for a data center in Athenry, County Galway, in 2015. The project was touted as Apple’s biggest in Europe, and was expected to create 300 jobs in Ireland.

Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s minister for business, enterprise and innovation, said Apple’s decision to drop the project was disappointing.

“I very much regret that Apple will not be pursuing its plans to construct a data center in Athenry, especially as the project would have been a source of significant investment and job creation for Galway and the West of Ireland,” Humphreys said in a statement.

“Notwithstanding this bad news, I welcome that Apple have confirmed that they are strongly committed to their existing operations in Ireland.”

Humphreys added: “These delays have, if nothing else, 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.”

Data centers are essential facilities for big tech companies, as they create a centralized environment to manage and distribute huge amounts of data.

Firms are investing in ramping up their data protection efforts ahead of a privacy law from the European Union that threatens to fine businesses up to 4 percent of annual turnover if they fail to comply.