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Amidst resistance, Apple pulls the plug on Irish data center project

Apple’s (AAPL) plans to set up a new data center in Ireland hit a roadblock due to delays in securing regulatory approval, prompting the company to cancel the project for good. The setback comes at a time when tech firms are bolstering their data protection systems in view of the stringent privacy laws being rolled out by the European Union.

It has been around three years since Apple started the groundwork for its second and largest center in Europe, with the first being in Denmark. Since then, the $1 billion project encountered fierce resistance from local green activists, resulting in a protracted delay.

The facility was envisaged to be powered by the renewable energy sources available in Athenry town in County Galway, where it was planned to be developed. Interestingly, the tech giant scrapped the project on the day when the court was scheduled to hear the petitioners who delayed the processing of its planning application.

Though a High Court order giving a green signal for the project had brightened its prospects last year, appellants moved the Supreme Court stalling the further procedures. Meanwhile, Apple remains resolved to continue expansion activities in Ireland and hinted at expanding its regional headquarters currently functioning in the country.

The $1-billion project encountered resistance from green activists, resulting in a protracted delay

“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. While disappointing, this setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow,” said a statement from the company.

It is learned that the impediment came despite the Irish authorities making concerted efforts to salvage the project, considering its potential benefits to the country’s economy and job market. For economic growth and employment creation, Ireland is fairly dependent on investments by large corporates.

Responding to Apple’s decision, Irish commerce minister Heather Humphreys said, “These delays have, if nothing else, underlined our need to make the state’s planning and legal processes more efficient.”

All the leading technology companies in the US have expanded their data centers to European locations, lured by the abundance of renewable energy sources and lower costs. Companies having their data centers set up in the relatively cooler Northern Europe also benefit from reduced investments in the typically energy-gulping cooling systems.

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