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Score one for the bats and badgers! Apple bins €850m Irish bit barn bid

Planning process prattle stalled project for years

Apple has torn up a blueprint to build a €850m (£742m) data centre in Ireland, blaming delays in the planning process that have stalled the project for almost three years.

The Cupertino-HQ'd biz announced plans for 166,296m2 (1.79 million ft2) Galway-based bit barn in 2015, intending to use green energy sources to sate its supposed 360MW appetite.

However, the proposals were resisted by locals who voiced concerns about pollution, high energy consumption and the impact on bats and badgers.

Last year, Ireland's High Court dismissed planning permission appeals – prompting protesters to take their case to the country's Supreme Court.

Irrespective of that outcome, Apple has seemingly lost the will to go through further legal rigmarole.

In a statement today the fruit-based brand 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."

Incidentally, the news comes as the iGiant is due to start paying €13bn in back taxes to the Irish government after a Brussels ruling two years ago that it received illegal aid. Apple is poised to appeal against that decision.

Apple said it now plans to expand its European headquarters in County Cork, where it employs more than 6,000 people.

The company also announced a data centre in Denmark, of the same size and cost as the Irish facility, in 2015. That scheme is nearing completion and in July Apple said it would build a second bit barn in the Nordic country at a cost of $921m.

Ireland's minister for Business and Enterprise, 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. Notwithstanding this bad news, I welcome that Apple have confirmed that they are strongly committed to their existing operations in Ireland.

The government, together with IDA Ireland, did everything it could to support this 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.

These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the State's planning and legal processes more efficient.

Others took to Twitter to express their disappointment:

Still, bats and badgers will be raising a rotted fig and daddy-long-legs larva smoothie in tiny Champagne glasses to celebrate. ®

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