Apple had been trying to get its $1 billion data center in County Galway, Ireland built for over three years, but has experienced pushback from individuals and organizations highlighting environmental protection issues.
Those against Apple's plans claimed a data center could have negative effects on local animal populations, while potential flooding concerns on a neighboring golf course were also raised. The planned site's proximity to a local nuclear power plant was later used to bring up new objections to the site's construction, despite the plant having been shut down for years.
In October 2017, Apple finally won approval for construction by the Irish High Court, after an appeal by two individuals against the decision was dismissed. However, the appellants decided to take their case to the country's Supreme Court, and while that hearing was due to go ahead on Thursday, Apple appears to have already decided to give up its fight to get the go-ahead for the data center.
"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," Apple said in a statement ahead of the Supreme Court heading on Thursday.Apple's decision to cancel its plans is a blow for the Irish government, which is seeking to boost the country's economy through foreign investments. According to Reuters, the state is in the process of changing its planning laws to include data centers as "strategic infrastructure", which would allow them to get through the planning process much more quickly in future.
"While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow," the company said, citing plans to expand its European headquarters in County Cork where it employs over 6,000 people.
"There is no disputing that Apple's decision is very disappointing, particularly for Athenry and the West of Ireland," Ireland's Minister for Business and Enterprise Heather Humphreys said in a statement.Apple announced in July that it would spend $921 million on a second data center in Denmark run entirely on renewable energy. Apple said the new data center would begin operations in the second quarter of 2019 and would power its online services, including the likes of iMessage, Siri, Maps, and the App Store.
"The Government did everything it could to support this investment... These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the state’s planning and legal processes more efficient."