Monday 18 December 2017

Apple warns Ireland that delays could put €1 billion Athenry project 'at risk'

An artist’s impression of the data centre planned for Athenry in Co Galway
An artist’s impression of the data centre planned for Athenry in Co Galway

Ryan O'Rourke

Apple has warned the Irish government that continuing delays around its proposed data centre in Galway may jeopardise the $1 billion project, according to Bloomberg.

The iPhone maker, which launched the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X yesterday, scouted 19 countries before choosing Ireland.

However, it has been revealed that concerns have been raised that the project has been hindered by problems with the planning process, according to people who asked not to be named as the matter is private.

The plan to build a data centre in a forest close to Athenry is set to cover 166,000 square meters, was announced in 2015 and had been expected to be completed this year.

However, as of yet nothing has been built, and Apple is still waiting on a court hearing into a challenge by people objecting to the planning approval for the project.

The objections appear to relate to environmental and economic issues.

Part of the problem is how difficult it is to achieve large infrastructure developments in Ireland, in comparison to other countries.

Another project, which was launched at the same time as the one in Ireland, has nearly been completed in Denmark.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook announced in July that Apple plans to build a second data centre in the Scandinavian country.

While the court probably won’t block the centre, it could send the project back into the planning process if it finds flaws in the planning permission.

If this happens, Apple may quietly shelve the centre or scale it back the size of the operation.

Apple declined to comment.

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